President’s budget recommends less funding for AFG/SAFER, more for USFA
USFA would receive nearly $3 million in additional funding, while AFG and SAFER programs would be cut by more than $10 million
By Laura French
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has released his budget recommendations for fiscal year 2021, including a proposed increase in funds for the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) and decrease in Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate fire & Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) allocations.
AFG and SAFER received a combined total of $355 million in fiscal year 2020, which the President’s Budget Request (PBR) recommended lowering to $344.4 million, according to the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI).
The USFA, which received $46.8 million in fiscal year 2020, would receive $49.7 million under the PBR recommendations.
Allocations for Urban Search and Rescue should remain at $37.832 million, according to the PBR.
“The annual federal budget dance is in full swing,” said Highlands County (Florida) Public Safety Director and FireRescue1 Executive Editor Chief Marc Bashoor. “It is great to see an approximately 6% increase in requested funding for the U.S. Fire Administration, but disheartening to see a 3% decrease request in the much larger portion of funding for AFG/SAFER.”
Bashoor added, “Now is the time for chiefs and decision-makers to be lobbying your senators and representatives for enhancements, not decreases, in all of our funding priorities.”
While the PBR offers suggestions, Congress ultimately has the final say in the next year’s budget allocations. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will hold hearings to consider testimony from program representatives before approving funding levels, and these hearings have already begun in the House.
“The Congressional Fire Services Institute has their finger on the pulse of sentiments in Washington; however, that pulse will fluctuate wildly as the appropriations process unfolds,” Bashoor said. “Fire chiefs have the opportunity now to be the proverbial defibrillator that might make the difference between life and a slow death of these grant programs.”