Coalition Lauds Bill to Enhance Firefighter Grant Programs, Address Staffing Crisis
March 17, 2022
NSDC signaled its approval Thursday for legislation to boost critical funding resources for firefighter assistance that also proposes policies to address short staffing in America's fire agencies.
The Coalition's support of S. 3592 (Sanders), the Firefighter Staffing and Support Act, is rooted in the resources the legislation would authorize and policies offered to enhance the ability for volunteer forces to respond in times of disaster. The bill would authorize $913 million in FY2023 appropriations for each the Assistance for Firefighter Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs with adjustments commensurate with the cost-of-living index through Fiscal Year 2028. The bill would triple funding for the programs to a total of $12 billion over five years.
S. 3592 would also authorize $10 million for FY23 with the same cost of living adjustments through FY28 in technical assistance or fire agencies' assistance to access AG and SAFER grants. Such programs are critical to small agencies – especially small special districts providing fire protection services on lean budgets in rural communities dependent on volunteer or combination volunteer/professional services.
More than 6,000 special districts provide fire protection services across the country. NSDC's support for the legislation was outlined in a letter sent Thursday to Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who sponsors the Firefighter Staffing and Support Act. The bill was introduced February 8, 2022, and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Contact Cole Karr, NSDC Federal Advocacy Coordinator, for additional information.