Fire fighters and emergency medical personnel will receive billions in aid from an economic stimulus package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, to address the response to and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The IAFF lobbied with Congress and the administration to ensure fire and EMS needs were included in the bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 96-0, passed the House by voice vote and was signed into law.
Specifically, the bill includes the following resources for fire and EMS:
- $45 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund to reimburse fire and EMS departments for expenses related to the response to the virus, including personal protective equipment (PPE), overtime and backfill, and operating costs above and beyond the normal cost of business.
- $100 million in funding through the Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE Act) grant program, earmarked specifically for PPE and related supplies.
- $100 billion to reimburse healthcare providers, including EMS, for healthcare expenses or lost revenue, including costs related to medical supplies and equipment, such as PPE, increased workforce expenses and surge capacity.
- $41 million for the National Forest System and Wildland Fire Management for PPE and baseline health testing for first responders, including wildland fire fighters, among other activities.
Watch this video message from General President Harold Schaitberger on how the IAFF is working to secure the tools and resources you need to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/National Institutes for Occupational Health and Safety have updated the Ryan White Act to include COVID-19. Hospitals are now mandated to notify emergency response employees of any exposure to a positive COVID-19 patient. See the guidance on this requirement.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)/Health and Human Services Healthcare Resilience Task Force has established that fire/EMS agencies are at the same level of priority for PPE as hospitals, healthcare facilities and workers. See guidance for submitting resupply requests.
We will continue to keep you updated as any new information comes out. In the meantime, as this situation is fluid, visit www.iaff.org/coronavirus for updates.