WASHINGTON — Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Jared Golden (D-ME), Carlos Giménez (R-FL), and Dan Kildee (D-MI) announced last Friday the introduction of the Fire Grants and Safety Act, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and increase federal resources for local fire departments across the nation. The legislation would boost critical federal funds for local fire departments to address staffing shortages, purchase new equipment, and improve training and emergency services.
“Communities across our country rely on local fire departments to keep residents safe in the event of a life-threatening crisis,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to co-lead bipartisan legislation that will support volunteer fire departments and assist with volunteer recruitment and retention.”
The federal funds from the Fire Grants and Safety Act would go toward the critical resources that our community fire departments in Pennsylvania need to act swiftly in an emergency. These dollars will allow for purchasing new equipment and training, raising firefighter salaries, and improving volunteer recruitment and retention.
The Fire Grants and Safety Act would reauthorize funding for three key initiatives: the United States Fire Administration (USFA), the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program. The bill is companion legislation to a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH).
“The Mainers who make up our fire departments put their lives on the line to protect their neighbors,” said Congressman Golden. “The federal government has a responsibility to ensure they have what they need to do their job and do it well. Increasing access to these resources – especially at a time of staff shortages throughout Maine – is just common sense. I’m proud to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help advance this funding for departments in the Second District and across the country.”
“As a former fire fighter and Chief of the City of Miami Fire Rescue Department, I know firsthand how crucial these vital programs and resources are to adequately prepare firefighters to respond to emergencies and protect our communities,” said Congressman Giménez. “In the past, both Monroe County and Miami-Dade County have benefited immensely from such initiatives. In Congress, it is our responsibility to support firemen as they make every effort to keep communities in South Florida and across the country safe.”
“Our fire fighters keep us safe, and we must ensure they have the resources necessary to protect our communities,” said Congressman Kildee. “That’s why I’m working with Republicans and Democrats to provide critical federal funding for local fire departments. This bipartisan legislation will support mid-Michigan fire departments and fire fighters so they can be ready when our community needs them.”
Advocates and members of the national firefighting community voiced their support for the bill:
“The IAFF is grateful to Representatives Golden, Kildee, Gimenez, and Fitzpatrick for introducing the Fire Grants and Safety Act, legislation that would reauthorize the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, and the United States Fire Administration (USFA),” said International Association of Fire Fighters General President Edward Kelly. “These programs are vital to ensuring fire departments are fully staffed by trained and equipped firefighters to respond to any emergency that threatens our communities. Studies and our own experiences have proven that proper staffing levels are key to safe and effective emergency responses. "The IAFF also applauds these members of Congress for advancing legislation that would strengthen the USFA’s role in educating the fire service and gathering the data we need to better protect our communities. The IAFF urges Congress to pass this critical legislation at the first opportunity.”
“NFPA is pleased to support the bipartisan efforts to reauthorize the U.S. Fire Administration as well as the AFG and SAFER grant programs that are so critical to first responders across our country,” said Jim Pauley, President and CEO of the National Fire Protection Association.
“FSI thanks Representatives Golden, Gimenez, Kildee, and Fitzpatrick for introducing the House companion to the Fire Grants and Safety Act and we look forward to working with them to reauthorize AFG, SAFER, and USFA this Congress,” said Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute. “AFG and SAFER are vital to America’s fire and emergency services and help to support proper staffing, training, and equipping of fire and EMS personnel. In addition, the U.S. Fire Administration is an essential voice of the fire and emergency services at the federal level, working every day to provide data, research, education, and training to the fire and emergency services and the general public.”