Fire service organizations ask President Trump for cost-share help

Letter sent on behalf of five organizations requests the administration waive all federal cost-share requirements for assistance

By Janelle Foskett

Five major fire service organizations together sent a letter to President Donald Trump, asking that all required matches for federal grants be waived due to the COVID-19 national emergency.

The letter – sent on April 9 on behalf of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) – noted that, according to federal regulations, FEMA has the ability to increase federal cost share for emergency response to 100% at the president’s discretion if warranted by the needs of a disaster.

“Considering the rising number of infected and deceased Americans due to COVID-19, the increasing strain on local fire and EMS agencies, and the economic downturn facing local governments, we ask you to raise the federal cost share to 100%,” stated the letter, shared by IAFC President Gary Ludwig on Twitter. “Fire and EMS agencies will continue to serve their communities as the coronavirus spreads, which will result in further cost increases. In addition, state and local governments will not have the funds to meet a 25% cost share as the economic downturn continues.”

The letter further explained that as the nation strives to response to – and eventually recover from – the pandemic, state and local governments will face difficulty providing a 25% cost share for FEMA reimbursement for COVID-19-related expenses. The letter implored the president to waive cost-share requirements in order to “enable state and local governments to focus on serving their citizens during this time of crisis and speed up America’s economic recovery.”

The letter also detailed the situation facing the nation’s first responders in order to emphasize the need for cost-share support: “Fire departments are desperate for supplies like PPE, masks, gowns and sanitizing agents to protect their staff from contracting COVID-19 …. Fire and EMS personnel are being exposed to COVID-19 and placed into quarantine or isolation, which creates increasing overtime and backfill costs for departments. These escalating supply and personnel costs are draining fire departments’ budgets across the nation. Meanwhile, their long-term ability to support COVID-19 response operations is threatened as local cities and counties face decreasing tax revenues in the face of ‘stay-at-home’ orders and ‘social distancing’ guidelines.”

The letter concluded by thanking the president for his support of America’s fire and emergency services.

Read the letter in full here.


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