What they’re saying: Lawmakers react to passage of Fire Grants and Safety Act

Republicans and Democrats stress the importance of supporting America’s fire fighters as they vote to reauthorize AFG/SAFER grant funding.

June 21 • 2024

On Tuesday, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the bipartisan Fire Grants and Safety Act (S. 870), IAFF-endorsed legislation that reauthorizes funding for the Assistance for Fire Fighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs.

Since then, lawmakers from both parties have voiced their support for the legislation – and for fire fighters nationwide:

“Today the Senate does a great thing for our fire fighters in New York and across America: we are passing the bipartisan Fire Grants and Safety Act,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in a speech on the Senate floor. “The Fire Grants and Safety Act reauthorizes several expiring funding programs that help fire fighters with the basics, from staffing to equipment to training and more. I was very proud to help create these programs a long time ago with Senator Chris Dodd, but they would have expired in a few months had we not acted today. Today’s bill keeps our fire fighters whole.”   

“Each and every day, fire fighters in Michigan and across the nation put their lives on the line to protect our communities. By passing this legislation, Congress has helped ensure these brave heroes have the necessary resources to keep themselves safe in the line of duty. My bipartisan bill -soon to be law – will ensure fire departments continue to receive federal resources to purchase lifesaving equipment and hold essential trainings for years to come,” said Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), who co-led the Fire Grants and Safety Act in the Senate.

“Fire fighters across Maine and the country courageously and selflessly put their lives on the line to serve their towns and cities,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Republican co-lead of the Fire Grants and Safety Act. “In 2003, I helped create FEMA’s fire fighters grant program, which provided funding for staffing, equipment, and training to help firefighters do their important jobs as effectively and safely as possible. I am pleased that Congress has passed our bipartisan legislation to extend these programs that support fire departments and fire fighters as they work to protect lives and property.”

“Fire fighters put their lives on the line every day to protect families and communities across the First State and the country. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide the critical tools and training they need to effectively do their jobs, and I’m proud to have led the effort to send the bipartisan Fire Grants and Safety Act to President Biden’s desk,” said Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus.

“In 2022, over three million acres of land burned in Alaska, accounting for nearly half of the acres burned in the entire United States. Wildfires are becoming more prevalent throughout the country, and resources are stretched,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who also serves as Congressional Fire Services Caucus co-chair. “As Fire Caucus Co-chair, I’m working hard to ensure our first responders have what they need to keep our communities safe. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this bill which helps provide funding opportunities to help our fire departments with the resources they need to do their critical work in protecting Alaskans and their communities.”

“Fire fighters put their lives on the line every day to save lives. We need to invest in our local fire departments and ensure they have the funding they need to hire and train fire fighters and purchase life-saving equipment. That’s why I worked to pass the bipartisan Fire Grants and Safety Act which will support fire departments in Minnesota and across the country,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

“All across the country, fire fighters and EMS personnel work through danger and uncertainty every day to protect their neighbors. As a former volunteer fire fighter, I know the sacrifices fire fighters and EMTs make daily to quickly respond to emergencies,” said Congressman Tom Kean (R-NJ), who introduced the House version of the Fire Grants and Safety Act. “This bill, which incorporated my introduced language, will reauthorize federal grants and programs for local fire departments which will help protect families in New Jersey and nationwide. I thank the Senate for their support of my legislation and urge the president to sign this into law.”   

“I look forward to President Biden swiftly signing this bill into law to ensure the safety and well-being of our communities nationwide. Every day, courageous fire fighters and first responders selflessly risk their lives to guarantee our safety in emergency situations. This bill will ensure they receive the necessary training and equipment to confidently perform their duties when called into action. Many thanks to Rep. Kean for his tireless work in getting this bill across the finish line and to our Senate counterparts for devoting floor time and support to this critical piece of legislation,” said House Science Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), an original co-sponsor of the House version of the bill.

“Fire fighters do one of the most difficult jobs possible, often at the risk of immense personal injury, to keep our families and loved ones safe. This funding is our way of giving them the support they need to do their jobs as safely and effectively as possible,” said Senator Tina Smith (D-MN). “This bill means better equipment to protect fire fighters on the job, increased funding for departments to hire additional fire fighters, and ensures departments get the staff and resources they need to be ready to go in the case of an emergency. I am proud to support this legislation.”

“Fire fighters and first responders deliver life-saving services in all types of emergencies, but too often Maryland fire departments struggle to have an adequate budget that supports the community’s need,” said Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). “This funding will better equip local departments throughout Maryland to provide a full scale of emergency services, and I’m proud to vote to pass this legislation to extend and strengthen these critical public safety initiatives.”

“Our fire fighters never hesitate to spring into action when duty calls, which is why we need to back them up with action of our own. We fought to renew funding for the AFG and SAFER programs so local fire departments throughout Maryland can continue to count on our support to help ensure they have the staff, tools, and skills to keep our communities safe,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

The Fire Grants and Safety Act now goes to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

The passage of S. 870 is the result of IAFF’s continual efforts to lobby members of Congress about the importance of adequate staffing and equipment in fire stations across the country. To learn more about how your Union is fighting for you on Capitol Hill, click here.