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IAFF LEGISLATIVE FACT SHEET                                   Click Here for Key Points

FUNDING FOR THE URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE RESPONSE SYSTEM

The IAFF supports increased funding for the Urban Search and Rescue Response System and urges Members of Congress to provide additional funding for the program.

BACKGROUND

The National Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Response System was originally established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 1989 to provide adequate search and rescue capacity in the event of an earthquake. Since then, the US&R System has evolved into an invaluable federal, state and local resource capable of responding to both natural and manmade disasters, including earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, hazardous materials spills, acts of terrorism and catastrophic structure collapses. Most recently, teams were deployed in response to the Joplin tornado and the Haiti earthquake.

Today, the US&R System comprises 28 national task forces consisting of highly trained, equipped and exercised emergency response personnel, including many IAFF members.

In 2006, FEMA estimated the average cost to maintain a national US&R team at $1.7 million. Today, in many jurisdictions the cost exceeds $2 million. Annual appropriations through the Department of Homeland Security provide funding for training, exercises, communications and personal protective equipment, and medical monitoring for responder safety and health. Unfortunately, the federal government has historically underfunded the program, leaving the local governments that sponsor the 28 task forces responsible for filling the gap. With many localities facing budget shortfalls, sponsoring US&R teams has become a burden they are unable to afford. Congress provided $35.18 million for US&R in Fiscal Year 2014, but this amount only covers a portion of the necessary costs.

CURRENT LEGISLATION

U.S. House:          H.R. 4903, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015
                            Sponsor:     Representative John Carter (R-TX)

Summary:            H.R. 4903 provides funding for the Department of Homeland Security and its
                           programs in Fiscal Year 2015.  As approved, the bill provides $27.513 million for US&R. 

U.S. Senate:         S. 2534, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015
                            Sponsor:      Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

Summary:            S. 2534 provides funding for the Department of Homeland Security and its
                           programs in Fiscal Year 2015.  As approved, the bill provides $35.18 million for US&R. 

CONGRESSIONAL ACTION

On March 4, 2014, the Administration released its budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2015.  The proposal includes $27.513 million for US&R.

On June 19, 2014, the House Committee on Appropriations approved H.R. 4903, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015.  As approved, the Act includes $27.513 million for US&R.

On June 26, 2014, the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved S. 2534, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015.  As approved, the Act includes $35.18 million for US&R.

 


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