This year the Firefighters & EMS Fund had the honor of participating in meetings with some of our nation’s Congressional offices as part of Hill Day. From May 18th-20th our very own Nile Porter, Executive Director of Firefighters and EMS Fund, met virtually with Congressional offices from the Virginia & Wisconsin delegations.
Hill Day provides access to lawmakers directly for organizations such as ours to raise awareness on the issues important to our missions.
“When we conduct meetings on the Hill, it is important that representatives and their staffers understand we are meeting with them as industry stakeholders who have a unique perspective on the challenges fire departments are facing,” said Porter.
At the national level, lawmakers are constantly juggling priorities concerning issues from every industry across the country. These Hill Day meetings provide an indispensable opportunity to keep lawmakers engaged and informed about the problems America’s firefighters are facing today.
One of the most pressing issues we covered was the urgent need to continue funding federal grant programs. The AFG (Assistance to Firefighters Grants program) and SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grants, specifically.
“We convene with them as individual members of the FAMA|FEMSA association foremost and leaders of essential companies who provide manufacturing and services second,” Porter noted.
Concerning these grant programs, our data suggests that the government has funded each of these grant programs for around $360 million in recent years. But this is not enough unfortunately. We believe that our nation’s Fire & EMS services could in fact use anywhere from 4-6 times those levels of grant funding to meet all applications.
This was just one issue that we covered throughout our opportunities speaking with lawmakers and their offices. Above all else, Hill Day was a unique opportunity for us to get the issues facing firefighters into the halls of Congress.
“For us,” Nile Porter concludes, “It is truly inspiring to be part of the greater voice urging Congress to pay attention to the needs of America’s first line of response.”
Image Credit: Photo by David Knox on Unsplash
Already facing shortages in funding, resources, and staffing, local departments were hit even harder as COVID-19 overwhelmed our nation. Cut to present day: a year after the first confirmed case of COVID-19, firefighters and EMS personnel have continued to work miracles. And how has our government supported these frontline heroes this past year?