Bangor, ME — U.S. Senator Susan Collins met with firefighters from throughout Maine yesterday at a reception following the Professional Firefighters of Maine 2019 Convention and Partnership in Education (PEP) Classes.
“Maine’s firefighters play a critical role in keeping our families and communities safe,” said Senator Collins. “I had a wonderful time talking with a number of these brave men and women about ways we can continue to work together to ensure they have the resources and trainings they need to do their jobs efficiently and safely.”
The 3rd Annual Convention and PEP Classes included presentations on post-traumatic stress injury and peer support, as well as leadership building training sessions.
The Professional Firefighters of Maine, charted by the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) in 1979, is designed to bring together active, retired and alumni members and members of recognized affiliates of the IAFF from across the state and to promote fraternalism among the IAFF’s ranks.
As co-chair of the Congressional Fire Service Caucus, Senator Collins is a tireless advocate for Maine's first responders. She championed the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, enacted in 2018, which calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor and study the relationship between career-long exposure to dangerous fumes and toxins and the incidence of cancer in firefighters to determine if there is a link, and develop better protective gear and techniques. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins helped ensure that $1 million was provided to the CDC in the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill to establish the registry. She also leads annual efforts in the Senate to secure robust funding for the FIRE and SAFER federal grant programs every year in the appropriations process. These programs help provide fire departments with important equipment and personnel. In FY 2017, more than $3 million in grant funding was awarded to Maine fire departments through these programs, including a nearly $516,000 SAFER grant for the Bangor Fire Department.
Earlier this year, Senator Collins cosponsored the Protecting Military Firefighters from PFAS Act, which requires the Defense Department to perform blood tests during annual physicals for firefighters to capture PFAS exposures and limit future exposures to the harmful chemical.