President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act is a step in the right direction to put fire fighters and paramedics back to work and help make communities safer.

As a part of his jobs plan, the president has proposed $1 billion in the form of federal grants to municipalities across the country to rehire fire fighters who have been laid off.

Nearly 15,000 fire fighter and paramedic jobs have been lost, are targeted for elimination or have been left unfilled after a vacancy.

This money is in addition to the $405 million already available through this year’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program. SAFER grants put almost 2,600 fire fighters and paramedics back to work in 2010 and another 3,000 this year.

The jobs bill also proposes allocating the D block of spectrum to public safety and invests $10 billion from other spectrum sales to build out the public safety broadband network.

IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger says the American Jobs Act will improve the ability of fire fighters and paramedics and law enforcement to respond more efficiently to all kinds of emergency calls.

General President Schaitberger says the IAFF will encourage Congress to pass the bill because it will get fire fighters back to work and improve their safety.

The General President also applauded President Obama for rejecting “the idea that we have to strip away collective bargaining rights to compete in a global economy.”

Did you miss President Obama’s speech Thursday night? Watch it online.