This past May, Firefighters and EMS Fund Executive Director, Jane Porter had the honor of attending the 2023 FAMA/FEMSA Hill Day event in Washington, D.C. as a member of FEMSA (Fire and Emergency Manufacturers and Services Association). Firefighters and EMS Fund has participated in this event as members of FEMSA since 2019.
Over the course of the three-day conference, Firefighters and EMS Fund delegates participated in, and led meetings with congressional representatives and their staff, updating them on the state of the fire services industry and urging them to support reauthorization of two vital programs that support local fire departments, (AFG) Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program and (SAFER) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant Program. These programs are due to sunset in FY 2023, and require reauthorization to continue filling critical funding gaps local fire departments are facing. This year, we also requested congress fund these programs at $405 million each, an increase from last year ($360 million), however still lower than peak levels seen in FY 2009 ($560 million). Inflation over the past 10 years coupled with flat funding has reduced the effectiveness of these programs. The equipment fire departments purchase has also grown in complexity for the sake of firefighter safety and compliance with regulations. Since 2019, the average cost of a fire apparatus has increased by nearly 40%, while the average cost of turnout gear has increased approximately 37%.
Fire departments around the country are struggling to find the resources they need to replace aging equipment, and have kept apparatus and turnout gear in service that is long past its recommended replacement date. This poses unnecessary risks to responders and the public while on calls. It continues to be vital for every community in America to support its fire department and EMS service providers to their fullest ability.