In a recent announcement, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer revealed the successful passage of the Fire Grants and Safety Act of 2023 in the US Senate. The new legislation aims to secure federal funding for fire departments across the country, specifically the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Program, which help hire new firefighters and purchase lifesaving equipment. These programs are at risk of being eliminated this year, but the new bill could extend their funding, if the House of Representatives can pass it.
What is the Fire Grants and Safety Act?
The Fire Grants and Safety Act reauthorizes the U.S. Fire Administration, the Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program, and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant Program through Fiscal Year (FY) 2030. This bill extends the funding for these programs and preserves critical federal funding that is essential for many fire departments facing budget shortfalls.
Fire departments often face budget shortfalls and high costs that make it difficult for them to purchase modern equipment to combat emergencies and keep firefighters safe. Losing federal funding would be detrimental to these departments, especially considering the high costs they face. With the passing of the Fire Grants and Safety Act, fire departments will continue to receive the federal support they need to purchase lifesaving equipment and hire more firefighters.
The Fire Grants and Safety Act extends the sunset for both SAFER and AFG from 2024 to 2032 and increases the authorization for the U.S. Fire Administration by approximately $20 million while maintaining the authorized funding level for SAFER and AFG at $750 million, each. Schumer is calling on the House of Representatives to quickly pass the legislation and get the bill to the President’s desk as soon as possible.
Federal Firefighter Funding Programs
Schumer has been campaigning all over his home state of New York to support the passage of this bill and sound the alarms about what would happen if the bill did not pass. Since the start of these programs in 2002, these grants have delivered nearly $700 million in federal funding to firefighters in New York. Schumer said that losing this funding would be especially hard for firefighters across Upstate New York, who have received over $78.5 million in federal funding through these programs in just the past three years. Without these programs, hundreds of New York firefighters who were hired or recruited thanks to this funding would never have happened.
Schumer helped create the AFG Program in 2002, which later expanded to also include the SAFER and Emergency Response (SAFER) Program, which has been a lifeline for firefighters and has become essential to their continued operations. The funding from this program has positively impacted fire departments in every corner of New York and the rest of the United States.
It is now up to the House of Representatives to quickly pass this legislation and get it to the president for signature so that fire departments can continue to receive the federal support they desperately need.