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Fire service groups call on Senate to restore grants funding

The Senate version of the DHS Appropriations bill would cut AFG and SAFER grant funding by $22 million


Photo/Anna Moneymaker

By Bill Carey

MCLEAN, Va. — The International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Volunteer Fire Council, the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the National Fire Protection Association released a joint statement on Thursday, calling on Congress to restore $22 million in proposed cuts to the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs.

On July 27, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted to report legislation that would cut funding to these fire grants programs. Specifically, the Fiscal Year 2024 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill would cut the programs each from $360 million in FY2023 to $338 million in FY2024. 

The House version of the FY2024 DHS Appropriations bill would maintain funding for these programs at $360 million in FY2024.

The joint statement reads, in part:

Our organizations 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. Whether it be extreme heat, a spike in fentanyl overdoses, a pandemic, wildland fires, hazmat incidents, or fires caused by lithium-ion batteries – the local fire department is on scene to provide lifesaving aid. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, fire and EMS departments are facing personnel shortfalls due to early retirements and a lack of new recruits. In addition, the supply chain crisis has caused the cost of fire and EMS apparatus and equipment to escalate above the capabilities of many fire and EMS departments. The AFG and SAFER grant programs have been commended over the years as effective methods of helping local fire and EMS departments meet the needs and challenges of their communities.” 

Fire service organizations are urging fire and EMS members to contact their senators to explain the importance of the AFG and SAFER grant programs for their fire department’s operations.