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Collins, Peters Bipartisan Legislation to Extend Federal Support for Local Fire Departments Signed into Law

Washington, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins, co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, and Gary Peters (D-MI) to extend federal programs that help support local fire departments across the country has been signed into law. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, and the United States Fire Administration (USFA). These programs are used by local fire departments to address staffing needs, purchase equipment, develop fire training and education programs, and improve emergency medical services. This new law will ensure local fire departments have the necessary resources to continue protecting their communities and responding effectively to emergencies. 

“Firefighters across Maine and the country courageously and selflessly put their lives on the line to serve their towns and cities,” said Senator Collins. “In 2003, I helped create FEMA’s firefighter grant programs, which provide funding for staffing, equipment, and training to help firefighters to do their important jobs as effectively and safely as possible. I am pleased that Congress has passed our bipartisan legislation to extend these programs that support fire departments and firefighters as they work to protect lives and property.” 

“Firefighters in Michigan and across the nation risk their lives every day to protect our communities,” said Senator Peters. “This new law is a testament to our nation’s commitment to these brave individuals. By reauthorizing these critical programs, we are not just funding fire departments – we are investing in communities across America and ensuring our firefighters have the resources they need to return home safely.” 

Fire departments use these federal programs to recruit and retain additional personnel, as well as buy up-to-date vehicles and equipment such as breathing air compressors, hoses, nozzles, and more. Fire stations also use the programs to fund safety training and technical rescue training, as well as health screenings for firefighters.  

The Fire Grants and Safety Act reauthorizes SAFER, AFG, and the USFA until 2028. It reauthorizes $95 million for USFA – a nearly $20 million increase from current authorized levels, and extends the authorization for the SAFER and AFG programs. 

Senator Collins has been a longstanding advocate for Maine’s first responders. This year alone, she secured nearly $31 million through the Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations process for 24 projects throughout the state that will support local law enforcement, fire stations, and emergency response services.

Below are statements in support of the Senators’ bipartisan legislation:  

“Volunteer and combination fire and EMS departments struggle to get the funding they need to keep the lights on, fuel the ambulance, and purchase turnout gear,” said National Volunteer Fire Council Chair Steve Hirsch. “Local fundraisers such as chicken dinners can only raise so much. The AFG and SAFER programs are critical to these departments because they allow them to purchase needed equipment and provide recruitment incentives to volunteers to serve their community. The NVFC applauds Chairman Peters, Senator Collins, Rep. Kean, and Rep. Pascrell for their leadership in ensuring the continuation of these critical programs.” 

“The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) thanks Chairman Peters and Senator Collins for their support of America's fire and emergency services. Reauthorizing the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) and Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) programs, as well as the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) will help to ensure that fire departments across the country have the necessary support to keep their communities safe,”?said President of the CFSI Board of Directors, Jim Estepp. “Chairman Peters and Senator Collins understand how important AFG, SAFER, and USFA are to the work of our country's fire and EMS personnel. CFSI appreciates the work of Chairman Peters, Senator Collins, and their colleagues on the Congressional Fire Services Caucus to ensure this bill becomes law.”

“Lives in every state have been saved by AFG and SAFER grants, including the lives of fire fighters. Today’s vote was long overdue. Communities large and small rely on these grants to hire and retain fire fighters and to ensure they have the equipment and training to do the job as safely as possible. Over the years, these programs have been reauthorized by Republican and Democratic congresses committed to protecting our communities and our fire fighters. The IAFF is grateful to Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Thomas Kean (R-NJ) for their leadership in getting the Fire Grants and Safety Act passed,” said IAFF General President Edward A. Kelly    

“The Fire Grants and Safety Act reauthorizes not only the vitally important AFG and SAFER grant programs, but also the United States Fire Administration.  We thank both the House and the Senate—especially the members of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus—not only for passing this critical legislation, but for their continued support of America’s fire and emergency services. These programs are an essential component in keeping America’s firefighters and the public safe and preventing future loss of life,”?said Victor Stagnaro, Chief Executive Officer of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

“I thank Congress for passing this critical legislation,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler, President and Board Chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. “I would like to thank the leadership of the House and Senate; the Congressional Fire Services Caucus leadership; and Senator Peters and the leadership of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee for their dedication to passing this legislation. This legislation confirms our nation’s commitment to firefighters and EMS personnel across the nation, who provide lifesaving service to their communities every day.”   

“The International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) strongly supports the reauthorization of the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) program, Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, and the U.S. Fire Administration. Investing funds to ensure our firefighters have the resources necessary to protect their communities is essential to ensuring they are able to go home to their families,”?said Leigh Hubbard, Executive Director of ISFSI. “We appreciate the bipartisan work that?has been done on this vital legislation.”  

“NFPA is grateful for every Member who has pushed so hard to advance this bipartisan bill to continue the important work of the U.S. Fire Administration, as well as the AFG and SAFER grant programs that are critical to first responders and their safety,” said Jim Pauley, President & CEO, National Fire Protection Association.