The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs passed the Fire Grants and Safety Act that would reauthorize federal grant programs designed to bolster fire fighter staffing and purchase vital equipment.
Those grants include the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG).
“Reauthorizing these programs sends a strong message that staffing, safety, and the wellbeing of firefighters remains a high priority for Congress,” said General President Edward Kelly. “Passing this legislation helps make our dangerous job safer and is an important step in protecting communities across the United States.”
The AFG and SAFER grants are each funded at $360 million annually. More than 2,700 AFG grants – totaling $567.6 million – for apparatus, PPE, and training were awarded to IAFF affiliates between 2018 and 2021. More than 450 SAFER grants adding up to more than $1 billion were awarded to affiliates for hiring and maintaining existing personnel.
The legislation also would ensure the United States Fire Administration (USFA) is maintained. The continuation of the USFA is critical as the administration just announced plans to use their position to address the nation’s fire problem and develop a national fire strategy.
The bill’s chief sponsor and Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), agrees that Congress needs to swiftly come together and vote in favor of the Fire Grants and Safety Act.
“Fire stations rely on federal grant programs for the resources and tools they need to protect people across the nation,” said Peters. “Congress must pass this legislation to extend these programs that ensure brave and courageous fire fighters can safely protect communities from fires and other emergencies.”
The legislation now moves to the full Senate for consideration.