Senator Carper Joined Senators Peters, Collins & Murkowski in Passing Bipartisan Legislation to Extend Federal Support for Local Fire Departments

U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) joined U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in passing bipartisan legislation to extend federal programs that help support local fire departments across the country. The bill would reauthorize 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). The programs are set to expire and are used by local fire departments to address staffing needs, purchase equipment, develop fire training and education programs, and improve emergency medical services. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.

“The brave firefighters who put their lives on the line every day to serve the First State deserve the tools and training they need to protect our communities,” said Senator Carper, co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “Firefighters do so much more than fire safety, responding to over 36 million emergency calls every year. Just last month in Delaware, our first responders led people to safety when a tornado struck the south of our state. Firefighters across the country put their lives on the line for us, and it is our duty to provide the necessary resources to support them. I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of this bipartisan legislation and I will always work to ensure our firefighters have what they need to keep our communities safe.”

“Fire departments rely on critical federal resources to keep firefighters and emergency responders safe, and these heroes need our support as they continue protecting our communities in Michigan and across the country,” said Senator Peters. “Now that the Senate has passed my bipartisan bill, the House must quickly send it to the President’s desk so brave firefighters can continue to count on these programs for up-to-date equipment and trainings that save lives.”

“Firefighters across Maine and the country courageously and selflessly put their lives on the line to serve their towns and cities,” said Senator Collins. “I helped create FEMA’s firefighter grant programs in 2003 as part of a bipartisan effort to ensure that firefighters have adequate staffing, equipment, and training to do their important jobs as effectively and safely as possible.  By reauthorizing these programs, we can continue to deliver this critical assistance to fire departments and support firefighters as they work to protect lives and property.”

“Last year, three million acres of land burned in Alaska, accounting for nearly half of the acres burned in the entire United States. Wildfires are becoming more prevalent throughout the country, and resources are stretched. Alaska’s vast geography makes response difficult, whether it’s our first responders heading to a wildfire hundreds of miles away or helping with a house fire in the next village during a snow storm with no plowed roads,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “As Fire Caucus Co-Chair, I’m working hard to ensure our first responders have what they need to keep our communities safe. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this bill which helps provide funding opportunities to help our fire departments with the resources they need to do their critical work in protecting Alaskans and their communities.”

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 2030. It authorizes $95 million for USFA – a nearly $20 million increase from current levels, and maintains currently authorized levels of funding for the SAFER and AFG programs.

Earlier this week, the Senator spoke on the floor to urge passage of the bill and today, thanked his Senate colleagues and the organizations advocating for the legislation.