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Seamus Dowdall

Associate Legislative Director – Telecommunications & Technology

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Urge your Members of Congress to support H.R. 3366, which would amend the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 to reauthorize the First Responder Network Authority. Introduced by Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas), this legislation would repeal provisions that terminate the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), whose mission it is to deploy, operate, maintain and improve the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network for first responders.


The federal FirstNet Authority was established after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The tragedies of September 11 revealed fundamental problems with communication systems used by our nation’s first responders. The lack of the ability for first responders to communicate between different agencies and different jurisdictions was staggering.

The idea for the FirstNet Authority was borne out of a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission and supported by NACo. Congress recognized the need for a dedicated network that included dedicated radio spectrum on which it needed to operate and decided to act. Ever since its establishment, the FirstNet Authority has been involved with numerous responses to major incidents, including active shooter incidents, wildland fires, earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes. More than 27,000 public safety agencies and organizations subscribe to FirstNet.

NACo urges Congress to remove the sunset date for the FirstNet Authority. This will ensure that our nation’s first responders stay connected for years to come. Congress must act so that first responders do not lose the dedicated broadband network that they fought so diligently to establish.

The incidents to which the FirstNet is deployed can occur almost anywhere in our nation. By responding to a wide variety of incidents in a diverse set of urban, suburban and rural communities, FirstNet has a proven track record of technological resourcefulness.


  • Congress must act swiftly to reauthorize the FirstNet Authority to ensure that communities are not disconnected from robust communications with federal and state agency resources during emergencies.
  • The FirstNet Authority has assisted counties in responding to a wide variety of emergencies, ranging from natural disasters to human-caused tragedies. NACo urges for the network’s extension to preserve our emergency response capabilities.