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Tags: funding

US Senate faces pressure to restore funding to fire service grants


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National fire service organisations call for restoration of funding

National fire service organisations, including the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI), National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have come together to oppose proposed cuts to vital fire service grant programs.

These programs, known as the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER), are crucial for local fire departments to acquire necessary equipment, training, and staffing.

A joint statement has been released expressing their concern, which can be found here.

A lifeline for fire departments facing increasing costs and challenges

On July 27, the US Senate Appropriations Committee voted to cut these essential programs.

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill proposes to reduce the funding for each program from $360 million in FY 2023 to $338 million in FY 2024.

This reduction of $22 million stands in contrast to the House version of the bill, which maintains funding at $360 million each for FY 2024.

The AFG and SAFER grant programs have provided much-needed support to fire and EMS departments nationwide.

They face rising costs, staffing shortages, and expanding responsibilities, including handling extreme heat, wildland fires, and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These grants have been praised over the years as effective ways to assist local departments in meeting the needs of their communities.

Local fire departments annually submit applications totaling approximately $2 billion for the AFG program and between $1 and $2 billion for the SAFER grant program.

The joint letter stated: “Our organisations call upon Congress to restore funding to these programs. Local fire and EMS departments face an increasing number of risks from which they must protect the public.”

The letter further urged Congress to restore funding and asked the fire and emergency service community to contact their Senators and Representatives to protect these vital programs.

Critical moment for U.S. fire service funding

While the House version of the FY 2024 DHS Appropriations bill (H.R. 4367) maintains the existing funding levels, the proposed cuts by the Senate could hinder the capacity of fire and EMS departments to respond effectively to emergencies.

The unified voice of national fire service organisations is a significant call to action to preserve these essential funding channels, marking a crucial moment for fire and EMS departments across the nation.

IFSJ Comment

The decision by the US Senate Appropriations Committee to propose cuts to the AFG and SAFER grant programs could have far-reaching implications for the ability of local fire and EMS departments to function effectively.

With growing challenges and risks, these grants are more crucial than ever.

We encourage our readers to stay engaged and informed on this vital issue.

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