WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter voted with the House of Representatives to provide $2.2 billion a year for firefighter assistance programs. The Fire Grants Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3791) reauthorizes and improves the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program for the next five years. This legislation passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote of 395 to 31.
“This legislation provides critical funding to strengthen our fire departments in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “Our firefighters need these resources to continue the great work they are doing to protect our communities.”
The AFG program will expand grants to include volunteer, non-fire service emergency medical services organizations and will go to help certify fire and building inspectors employed by a fire department. The $1 billion a year in grants for the AFG program would be divided as follows: 25 percent for career fire departments, 25 percent for combination fire departments, 25 percent for volunteer fire departments, 10 percent would remain for open competition among all types of fire departments, and 15 percent would serve other purposes such as fire prevention and safety grants. In addition, the bill lowers the matching requirement for the AFG program from 20 percent to 10 percent. Departments serving populations under 20,000 would only pay a 5 percent matching requirement.
The SAFER program was created in 2004 to help fire departments hire additional firefighters. This legislation, which provides $1.2 billion a year for the SAFER program, sets the grant period at three years, sets the local matching requirement at 20 percent per year of the grant, eliminates an artificial cap on the maximum allowable grant size per firefighter, and includes an economic hardship waiver for fire departments that are unable to meet the matching requirements or maintenance of budget requirements.