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Tags: funding

Fire service organisations call on Congress for crucial funding support

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39 national fire and emergency services organisations have united, urging Congress to reauthorise the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant Program (SAFER).

Without this crucial reauthorisation, both AFG and SAFER will come to an end in under a year, specifically on September 30, 2024.

The importance of these programs can be gauged from the fact that they cater to the requirements of over a million fire and emergency services personnel.

Fire service challenges across the board

These personnel address a staggering 36 million service calls every year. These calls cover a diverse range of emergencies, from structural fires and natural disasters to medical emergencies and hostile events.

Despite this extensive range of responsibilities, fire departments nationwide face challenges in terms of training, equipment, and staffing to ensure adequate response times.

According to the National Fire Protection Association’s 5th Needs Assessment: “Fire service needs are extensive across the board.”

This report goes on to highlight that a significant number of fire departments have outdated personal protective equipment.

Furthermore, over half the fire departments are unable to provide all their members with the Self Contained Breathing Apparatus, vital for their safety.

The lifeline that is AFG and SAFER

The aforementioned AFG and SAFER grant programs act as lifelines to countless fire and EMS departments across the country.

These departments face escalating costs and expanding roles, making this funding essential.

Similarly, the USFA, as the lead federal agency, plays a pivotal role in fire data collection, public education, and fire service training.

Their annual activities include offering training to both the public and fire service, and providing key data through the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).

Voices from the fire service

Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute, commented: “When 9-1-1 is called, every community relies on their fire and EMS personnel.”

Seth Statler, Director of Government Affairs for the National Fire Protection Association, pointed out: “Data from NFPA shows how underprepared our nation’s firefighters are.”

Furthermore, Chief John Butler, President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, acknowledged: “The AFG and SAFER grant programs are lifelines for fire departments.”

Chief Kevin Quinn of the National Volunteer Fire Council highlighted the significance of these grants for volunteer departments.

Dave Hoagland, President of the Washington DC Firefighters Association, stressed the irreplaceable nature of the 911 service.

And Victor Stagnaro, the CEO of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, reminded us of the brave firefighters who risk their lives every day.

IFSJ Comment

The collective appeal of 39 national fire and emergency services organisations underscores the vital role that AFG and SAFER grant programs play.

As the demands on the fire service continue to grow, it is essential that they have the necessary resources to respond effectively.

This push for reauthorisation is not just about funding but ensuring the safety of both the firefighters and the communities they serve.

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