President Joe Biden shared laughs with the International Association of Fire Fighters during a speech on Monday at the union’s annual legislative conference.
“I came back from a trip after being away for a couple of days and I had these terrible headaches. I was diagnosed with having an, uh — anyway, they had to take the top of my head off a couple times to see if I had a brain,” the president joked while light-heartedly referencing his 1988 bout with a brain aneurysm.
He credited firefighters with coming to his aid, driving him through a snowstorm so that he could undergo life-saving brain surgery.
IAFF issued a statement thanking Biden for being the first president in 25 years to address an IAFF conference. “People don’t appreciate you until they need you,” Biden told the audience of emergency service personnel. “When that bell rings, you jump in the truck, no matter what.”
Biden also reaffirmed his commitment to the Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act, which would allow the families of first responders to declare cancer as a line-of-duty death. Roughly 75% of firefighter deaths result from cancer developed during their duties, according to the IAFF.
“You are the only person I ever hear saying, ‘The only thing that saves firefighters is more firefighters,’” said IAFF General President Edward Kelly to Biden.
“You have clearly established yourself as the greatest president firefighters have ever had. You’re making our very dangerous profession as safe as it possibly can be. One decision at a time. We thank you,” said Kelly.
The union, representing over 300,000 members, has been a loyal supporter of the president, offering him its endorsement during the 2020 election cycle. “Biden is a lot like firefighters,” their endorsement declared. “He is a problem solver who cares deeply about his country and is driven to make it better,” said then-IAFF General President Harold Shaitberger.
IAFF is an affiliate of AFL-CIO and represents over 3,000 branches in the United States and Canada.
VIDEO – Biden says they had to take the top of my head off a couple times to see if I had a brain. pic.twitter.com/jQNaRhwlYB
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) March 6, 2023