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House Passes Peters Bipartisan Legislation to Extend Federal Support for Local Fire Departments

WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, to extend federal programs that help support local fire departments across the country has passed the House. The bill would reauthorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, and the United States Fire Administration (USFA). The programs are set to expire this year and are used by local fire departments to address staffing needs, purchase equipment, develop fire training and education programs, and improve emergency medical services. Peters has led the effort in the Senate to reauthorize these essential programs. The bill now moves back to the Senate for final passage. 

“Firefighters risk their lives every single day to protect our communities, and Congress must show these brave heroes that we have their backs,” said Senator Peters. “My bipartisan bill will ensure fire departments continue to receive critical federal resources to hold essential trainings and purchase up-to-date equipment that help keep our firefighters, and the communities they protect, safe.” 

Fire departments use these federal programs to recruit and retain additional personnel, as well as buy up-to-date vehicles and equipment such as breathing air compressors, hoses, nozzles, and more. Fire stations also use the programs to fund safety training and technical rescue training, as well as health screenings for firefighters.  

The Fire Grants and Safety Act reauthorizes SAFER, AFG, and the USFA until 2028. It reauthorizes $95 million for USFA – a nearly $20 million increase from current authorized levels, and extends the authorization for the SAFER and AFG programs. 

Below are statements in support of Peters’ bipartisan legislation:  

“This is a momentous occasion,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler, President and Board Chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. “I would like to personally thank the Congressional Fire Services Caucus leadership for their persistence in passing this vital legislation. To representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr., Mike Bost, Steny Hoyer, and Brian Fitzpatrick, Representative Tom Kean, Jr., the sponsor of the House companion bill, Representatives Frank Lucas and Zoe Lofgren, chairman and ranking member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee: thank you for standing up and supporting our nation’s fire service. This bill will protect critical sources, including vital funding and training, for local fire and EMS departments. The IAFC looks forward to working with our supporters in the Senate, including Senators Gary Peters and Susan Collins and the rest of the Senate Fire Services Caucus leadership, to ensure final passage of S. 870.” 

“Volunteer and combination fire and EMS departments struggle to get the funding they need to keep the lights on, fuel the ambulance, and purchase turnout gear,” said National Volunteer Fire Council Chair Steve Hirsch. “Local fundraisers such as chicken dinners can only raise so much. The AFG and SAFER programs are critical to these departments because they allow them to purchase needed equipment and provide recruitment incentives to volunteers to serve their community. I appreciate Chairman Peters, Senator Collins, Rep. Kean, and Rep. Pascrell for their leadership in moving this reauthorization through the House and Senate. I urge the Senate to pass the amended House-passed version of this legislation and send it to the President’s desk without delay.” 

“The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) thanks Chairman Peters and Senator Collins for their support of America's fire and emergency services. Reauthorizing the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) and Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) programs, as well as the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) will help to ensure that fire departments across the country have the necessary support to keep their communities safe,”?said President of the CFSI Board of Directors, Jim Estepp. “Chairman Peters and Senator Collins understand how important AFG, SAFER, and USFA are to the work of our country's fire and EMS personnel. CFSI looks forward to working with them and the Congressional Fire Services Caucus to ensure this bill swiftly becomes law.”  

“The AFG and SAFER Grant Programs are vital programs that ensure fire departments across the country have access to the critical equipment, staffing, and training they need to keep our communities safe. We are grateful to the House of Representatives for passing the Fire Grants and Safety Act, legislation that reauthorizes these important programs, as well as the United States Fire Administration. We are thankful to Congressmen Kean and Pascrell, and Senators Peters and Collins for their leadership on this issue and we urge the Senate to approve the House-passed bill and send it to the President’s desk without delay,”?said Victor Stagnaro, Chief Executive Officer of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. 

“The International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) strongly supports the reauthorization of the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) program, Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, and the U.S. Fire Administration. Investing funds to ensure our firefighters have the resources necessary to protect their communities is essential to ensuring they are able to go home to their families,”?said Leigh Hubbard, Executive Director of ISFSI. “We appreciate the bipartisan work that?has been done on this vital legislation.” 

“Fire fighters have hard jobs, and we need Congress to make sure they have the staffing levels, protective gear, tools, and training to serve the public. For decades, Congress understood this critical need by providing strong funding and reauthorizations for AFG, SAFER, and the US Fire Administration. The House is commended for passing a long-term reauthorization of these programs on a nearly unanimous vote, much like the Senate did last year. Our members across the nation are grateful to Senators Gary Peters and Susan Collins for their continued leadership in demanding that these critical funds aren’t delayed due to partisan politics. The expiration of these programs is rapidly approaching. Congress must immediately pass a final reauthorization of these programs. Fire fighters, and the communities we serve, deserve nothing less than Congress’ strongest and swiftest support,” said IAFF General President Edward A. Kelly. 

“NFPA is grateful for every Member who has pushed so hard to advance this bipartisan bill to continue the important work of the U.S. Fire Administration, as well as the AFG and SAFER grant programs that are critical to first responders and their safety,” said Jim Pauley, President & CEO, National Fire Protection Association.