A key Senate committee will conduct a hearing Thursday regarding a nationwide broadband wireless network for public safety as part of a critical week in first responders’ efforts to persuade Congress to reallocate the 700 MHz D Block to public safety.

Entitled “Keeping Us Safe: The Need for a Nationwide Public-Safety Network,” the hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. EST. The hearing will be conducted by the Senate Commerce Committee, which is chaired by Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) who introduced legislation this summer that would reallocate the D Block — slated for commercial auction under current law — to public safety.

In this scenario that is supported by virtually all national public-safety organizations, the D Block would be combined with the adjacent 10 MHz of broadband spectrum licensed to the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) to provide the spectral foundation for the promised 700 MHz broadband network for first responders.

Multiple first-responder officials will be in Washington, D.C., this week to attend the hearing and visit with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, said Dick Mirgon, immediate past president of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO).

“Public safety will be out in full force in D.C.,” Mirgon said during an interview.

Last week, the Public Safety Alliance announced that the National Association of State Technology Directors (NASTD) and the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) have expressed support for reallocation of the D Block to public safety.

“As commercial operators composed of security and public-safety experts, we at the AICC know that a nationwide public safety broadband network with sufficient capacity and public safety–grade capabilities is critical to enhancing and better ensuring our nation and the public’s safety both day-to-day and during small to large critical events or incidents,” Steve Doyle, executive vice president of the Central Station Alarm Association, said in a prepared statement.

Mirgon said he would like to see legislation be approved by the Senate committee and voted on by the full Senate before Congress recesses next month to let members run their re-election campaigns.