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2009 News Archives

IAFF Statement on Pending Senate Approval of Health Care Reform Legislation
December 23, 2009 -- The IAFF is disappointed that the U.S. Senate has chosen to pay for reform of the nation’s health care system by taxing people who work for a living by imposing an excise tax on health care plans that cover our members today. The excise tax is a benefit killer that will shift more health care costs onto an estimated 25 million working families in 2019 or force a cut in the benefits those workers receive. In stark contrast to the Senate bill, the House of Representatives has passed legislation reforming the health care system without resorting to taxing the health care benefits received by fire fighters and other working Americans. The IAFF will be working hard over the coming days to ensure that the final bill reflects the House approach to funding health care reform.

House Passes Legislation Improving FIRE Act/SAFER Grant Programs 
November 18, 2009 – By a vote of 395-31, on November 18, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3791, the FIRE Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009. The bill makes improvements to both the Assistance to Fire Fighters (FIRE Act) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs that will significantly benefit professional fire departments in the United States.  Read More...

House Approves Landmark Health Reform
November 10, 2009 – By a 220-215 vote late Saturday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the most comprehensive reform of our nation’s health insurance system since Congress created Medicare and Medicaid over four decades ago. The bill (H.R. 3962) creates a new insurance exchange similar to the one available to members of Congress and expands Medicaid to reduce our nation’s uninsured population by over two-thirds—all without taxing health benefits.  Read More...

November 5  Is Day of Action on Health Care Reform 
November 3, 2009 – The IAFF remains committed to fighting on its members' behalf for health care reform that protects the benefit plans our members have and reduces costs both to our members and their employers. Specifically, this union has been lobbying against a plan to tax so-called "Cadillac" health insurance plans to finance the health care overhaul.  Read More...

Ryan White Notification Protections Restored
October 22, 2009 – The U.S. Congress has approved legislation restoring notification requirements for emergency response personnel exposed to infectious diseases while on duty. The provision was included as part of S. 1793, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009.  Read More...

Legislation Doubling SAFER Funding Soon to Become Law
October 19, 2009 – A House-Senate Conference Committee has approved a final version of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriation for FY 2010 that doubles funding for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants. HR 2892 increases the SAFER appropriation to $420 million, providing funding to hire thousands of fire fighters. The bill passed the House on October 15 by a vote of 307-114, and is scheduled for a final vote in the Senate. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.  Read More...

Defense Bill Benefits Federal Fire Fighters
October 14, 2009 – The FY 2010 Defense Authorization bill soon to be approved by Congress includes several provisions important to the nation’s federal fire fighters. HR 2647 eliminates the National Security Personnel System (NSPS), transitions employees in Hawaii and Alaska to locality pay, credits federal employee sick leave toward retirement, and excludes a provision to create special age requirements for military retirees for certain federal jobs, including fire fighter positions.  Read More...

IAFF Affiliates to Gain Under Proposed FIRE/SAFER Amendments 
October 9, 2009 – Legislation about to be introduced in Congress would make improvements to both the Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE Act) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs that will significantly benefit professional U.S. fire departments. The IAFF and other national fire service organizations have secured the endorsement of a key congressional committee for a compromise proposal that will reauthorize the FIRE Act and SAFER programs for five years and change the way grants are awarded.  Read More...

Apply for the 2010 Political Training Academy

September 4, 2009 – The IAFF is accepting applications for the 2010 Political Training Academy, scheduled for February 27-March 5, 2010, in Baltimore, Maryland. Applications must be received at the IAFF no later than Friday, November 6. 

Collective Bargaining Bill Re-Introduced In Senate 
August 7, 2009 – The IAFF’s national collective bargaining bill, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (S 1611) has been reintroduced by Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA), just moments before the Senate adjourned for its month-long summer recess. This gives IAFF members the opportunity to lobby their senators during the August break when many will be in their home states. 
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New Bills Benefit Federal Fire Fighters
July 31, 2009 – With strong support from the IAFF, Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and John Sarbanes (D-MD) have introduced a pair of bills that would make historic progress on two key issues for federal fire fighters: retirement pay and trade time agreements.  Read More...

Health Benefits Tax Losing Steam
July 9, 2009 – An aggressive lobbying campaign led by the IAFF has dampened enthusiasm on Capitol Hill for paying for health reform by imposing a tax on employer-provided health benefits. The IAFF has argued that such a tax would disproportionately impact the nation’s fire fighters and other unionized workers. 
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IAFF Testifies Before House on Improving FIRE Act and SAFER 
July 9, 2009 – The IAFF testified before a House Subcommittee July 8 regarding the need to amend the Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE Act) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs to enable more communities to take full advantage of the programs.  
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House Approves Doubling SAFER Funding
July 1, 2009 – The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a Homeland Security Appropriation bill that doubles funding for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program. The bill calls for spending $420 million on the program, which provides grants to help communities hire fire fighters. The bill also provides funding for a variety of other fire service programs, including $390 million for the Assistance Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, commonly known as FIRE Act grants.
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President Obama Approves New SAFER Rules

June 24, 2009 – President Barack Obama has approved new rules that govern how fire departments can use funding from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, an important change during the economic crisis that has caused widespread layoffs of fire fighters throughout the country. 
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Senate Panel Matches SAFER, FIRE Funding Levels in House
June 19, 2009 – A U.S. Senate panel has provided $420 million for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program and $380 million for Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE) grants in 2010. The funding was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in its draft Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2010 on a unanimous vote.  Read More...

New Rules Allow SAFER Grants to Prevent Layoffs, Restore Cuts
June 18, 2009 – Congress has voted to allow the use of federal funding to rehire laid off fire fighters and prevent fire department staffing reductions. The new rules for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants make funding available to help keep IAFF members safe and on the job and bring back those who have been laid off as a result of the current financial crisis. The bill is now on its way to the White House.  Read More...

House Panel Approves Obama SAFER Funding Proposal
June 9, 2009 – The U.S. House of Representatives has taken the first step toward increasing funding for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants in 2010 by providing $420 million for the program in a draft appropriations bill. The bill, the Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2010, was approved by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.  Read More...

Fire Station Construction Grant Application Period to Open June 8
June 3, 2009 – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistance to Firefighters Fire Station Construction grant application period is expected to begin June 8, 2009. These grants will provide funding directly to fire departments on a competitive basis to build new or modify existing fire stations in order to enhance response capabilities and better protect communities from fire and fire-related hazards. The Fire Station Construction grants were derived from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Congress appropriated a total of $210 million for Fiscal Year 2009 for this program.  Read More...

IAFF Looks Forward to Improved Fire Fighting Standards and Better Safety at U.S. Airports
Washington, DC
– International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold A. Schaitberger today released this statement on passage of H.R. 915 by the U.S. House of Representatives. With passage of the FAA Reauthorization, the Federal Aviation Administration will be required to update current aircraft rescue and fire fighting standards and the safety of the flying public will be vastly improved. 
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IAFF Testifies on Improving Hazardous Materials Safety
May 15, 2009 – The IAFF testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials May 14 as part of the committee’s efforts to update federal laws addressing the transportation of hazardous materials. Elizabeth Harman, director of the IAFF Hazardous Materials/WMD Training Department, discussed the importance of hazardous materials response training and the need to improve hazardous materials identification tools for fire fighters.  Read More...

Funding to Protect Fire Fighter Jobs Moves Forward
May 15, 2009 – Legislation to provide federal financial assistance to enable local fire departments to rehire laid off fire fighters and avoid staffing cuts has moved forward in both the House and Senate.  Read More...

IAFF Urges Lawmakers to Bolster Airport Safety by Improving Fire Fighting Standards
Washington, DC – International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold A. Schaitberger today released this statement prior to a hearing on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security.  Read More...

Obama Calls for Doubling Funding for SAFER 
President Responds to IAFF Priority
May 8, 2009 – In his first formal budget request, President Barack Obama fulfilled a campaign commitment by proposing a huge funding increase for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants, the IAFF’s signature program. The Obama budget proposed $420 million for SAFER, doubling the funding that the program received last year. 
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Congressional Panel Approves Use of SAFER Grants for Rehire, Retention
May 7, 2009 – The House Appropriations Committee has approved legislation that would enable fire departments to use Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants to rehire laid off fire fighters and avoid reductions in force (RIFs). The language, which was crafted and proposed by the IAFF, would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to waive various requirements on SAFER grants that prevent grants from being used to address cuts in fire department staffing. 
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Tune in to the IAFF Legislative Conference Webcast
March 13, 2009 – A webcast of the 2009 Alfred K. Whitehead Legislative Conference will be available on the IAFF web site beginning Monday, March 16.  Read More...

Funding for Fire Service in Stimulus Bill
Key Provisions Provide Aid to Struggling Communities

February 13, 2009 – Congressional leaders and the Obama administration have agreed on a compromise economic stimulus package that will provide more than $200 billion to states and localities facing budget shortfalls. This critically needed funding will help alleviate the pressure on fire department budgets in communities across the nation. The legislation is expected to pass Congress this week, and be quickly signed into law by President Obama. 
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Napolitano Confirmed as Homeland Security Secretary
January 21, 2009 -- In the hours immediately following Barack Obama’s inauguration as president of the United States, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to confirm Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Her confirmation follows hearings by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs at which Committee members praised her record on public safety and her commitment to working with first responders. 
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IAFF, IAFC, CFSI Support Keeping FEMA in DHS
January 8, 2009 – The IAFF, in conjunction with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the Congressional Fire Services Caucus (CFSI), is urging the Obama administration to retain the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a core component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 
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