U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, have introduced bipartisan legislation to increase federal support for local fire departments across the nation.
The bill would reauthorize critical Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant programs that local fire departments use to address staffing needs, purchase equipment, develop fire training and education programs, and improve emergency medical services. It would reauthorize the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) that fire stations rely on for critical resources and information.
“Fire stations across the country rely on federal resources to keep firefighters safe. These heroes – who put their lives on the line every day – deserve our steadfast support,” said Senator Peters. “By reauthorizing these critical programs, this bipartisan legislation will ensure that fire departments in Michigan and throughout the nation have the information and tools they need to protect our communities and firefighters in the line of duty.”
“Firefighters throughout Ohio and across our nation risk their lives every day to protect and serve all of us,” said Senator Portman. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure that our nation’s fire and emergency medical services have access to much-needed federal grants and resources to better prepare for and respond to emergency medical services and fire hazards.”
Fire departments use these federal programs to recruit and retain additional personnel, as well as buy up-to-date equipment such as breathing air compressors, hoses, nozzles, and more. Fire stations also utilize the programs to fund safety training and technical rescue training, as well as health screenings for firefighters.
The Fire Grants and Safety Act reauthorizes SAFER, AFG, and the USFA. The current authorization of appropriations for all three grant programs expires in 2023, and SAFER and AFG will sunset in 2024. The bill would reauthorize all three grant programs until 2030. It authorizes the USFA at $95 million for the entire time period, up from the current $76.5 million. The SAFER and AFG authorization amount was previously set at $750 million each in 2013 and is adjusted for inflation every year.