Reauthorization for Fire & Emergency Response Grant Programs Advances

17 May 2017
  Julie Tarallo

Senate Committee Passes McCain Legislation To Reauthorize Fire & Emergency Response Grant Programs

Washington, D.C.  ­– The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) today passed legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Carper (D-DE) that would reauthorize the highly successful Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs though Fiscal Year 2023. The Fire Grants Reauthorization Act would ensure that our nation’s more than one million fire and emergency services personnel continue to have access to the necessary training, equipment and staffing as first responder missions increase. 

“Firefighters risk their lives every day to protect our citizens and keep our communities safe,” said Senator McCain. “That’s why we must give these brave individuals the training, resources and equipment they need for dangerous missions around the country. I’m proud to once again cosponsor this legislation that would ensure America’s 30,000 fire departments and first response services have the best possible preparation and resources, and I appreciate the committee passing our bill today. I hope my colleagues in the Senate will join this effort to support those who sacrifice so much for us.”

“When emergency strikes, firefighters must have the equipment, training, and staff they need to respond quickly and safely,” said Senator Tester.  “I have seen firsthand the impact these grants have made for fire departments in Missoula, Livingston, Bozeman, and Lewiston, Montana.  These grants have saved lives and property – both the lives of firefighters and Montana families – and that is why we need to reauthorize these critical grant initiatives.”

“The FIRE and SAFER grant programs provide vital resources to fire departments, helping them to purchase lifesaving equipment and recruit new personnel to fight fires effectively and safely in their communities,” said Senator Collins.  “I am pleased that the committee advanced our legislation today, which will ensure these brave men and women continue to receive the support that they need.”

“Every day, our brave first responders put their lives on the line to protect families, their homes and their most precious belongings. But too many of our emergency service organizations face strained state and local budgets, and are too often forced to make drastic cuts. It’s essential that we provide the men and women who are on call when tragedy strikes with the equipment, training and resources necessary to perform their mission safely and effectively,” said Senator Carper. “This bill reauthorizes critical grant programs that will allow our first responders to obtain the grants they need to perform at their very best during times of crisis.”

The primary goal of AFG is protect communities and firefighters from fire-related hazards by providing eligible fire departments the financial support to train, equip and properly resource America’s emergency personnel. The SAFER program provides funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help increase and maintain the number of trained firefighters in local communities. Language was added to the legislation in committee that will strengthen oversight and monitoring of the fire grants to minimize the risk of waste, fraud and abuse, and create training programs to assist fire departments in properly managing the grant awards.

The first FIRE Act was passed out of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in 2000 when Senator McCain served as Committee Chairman. He has continued to cosponsor legislation to reauthorize this vital the fire grant program, including legislation in 2013that maintains the program through 2017. Senator McCain reintroduced this legislation on April 6, 2017.

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