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Ref: Virginia first to issue first responder credentials

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Virginia First in Nation to Issue New First Responder Credentials



By News Release
Mar 13, 2007
On September 11, 2001, the Pentagon site was swarming with first responders from across the region. Arlington County -- responsible for incident command -- struggled to quickly ensure that only credentialed responders had access to the most sensitive areas of the scene.

Now, six years later, Arlington is piloting the nation's first test of a new, high-tech identification card -- FRAC, which stands for First Responder Authentication Credentials. Arlington has issued more than 1,400 FRAC cards to emergency services workers, enabling quick, authorized access to emergency scenes across multiple jurisdictions and agencies.

Arlington County is the first county in the nation to issue the new first responder credential, as part of the First Responder Partnership Initiative, which includes the Department of Homeland Security (National Capital Region), Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Commonwealth of Virginia.

The initiative, now being piloted in the National Capital Region, aims to equip state and local first responders with a new federally approved smart card designed to:
Securely establish emergency responders' identities at the scene of an incident.
Confirm first responders' qualifications and expertise, allowing incident commanders to dispatch them quickly and appropriately.
Enhance cooperation and efficiency between state and local first responders and their federal counterparts.

The FRAC identification card is encoded with critical data that enables commanders at the scene of an emergency to authenticate the responder's credentials using a wireless handheld device.

Johnson Controls served as lead contractor on the project, with Northrop Grumman and Rileen Innovative Technologies providing a collaborative solution called the JCI P2000 Federated Identity Credentialing System (FICS). The Johnson Controls team, in close cooperation with the Arlington County team, completed the credentialing of more than 1,400 Arlington County emergency responders in just 30 days.

"During our 9/11 response, we learned that secure credentialing of first responders is essential to being able to efficiently provide critical emergency services," said Robert P. Griffin, Arlington County's director of emergency management. "As the home of the Pentagon and many vital federal and local facilities, Arlington places a high priority on quick and secure response -- we are very pleased to pilot this program for the nation's first responders."

The First Responder Partnership Initiative grew out of the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12), which states that wide variations in the quality and security in forms of identification used to gain access to secure facilities need to be eliminated. HSPD-12 outlines a policy to enhance security, increase government efficiency, reduce identity fraud, and protect personal privacy by establishing a mandatory, government-wide standard for secure and reliable forms of identification issued by the federal government to its employees and contractors. Virginia's pilot program marks the first time that state and local emergency responders have received the federally approved credential across an entire county involving multiple Emergency Support Functions.

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