WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), and Thomas Carper (D-DE) have authored an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act that will provide an additional $10 million in grants to help local fire departments with more equipment and training. The senators’ amendment, which passed unanimously late last night, will ensure $390 million in funding is provided for the Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE) grant program next year.
The Department of Homeland Security funding bill for next year also included $420 million for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program to increase the number of firefighting personnel—doubling this year’s federal funding.. And, earlier this year, Congress approved $210 million in fire station construction grants in the economic recovery package through the FIRE grant program.
“It is essential that even in these times of economic hardship; we must not forget the brave fire fighters that set out to keep our communities safe. We must remember to make them a priority by ensuring that fire departments across Connecticut and the country are adequately funded,” said Sen. Dodd.
“Our first responders – those brave men and women who race into the face of danger when everyone else races away from it – need all the resources we can provide them, even in tough economic times,” Sen. Lieberman said. “Our ability to protect the safety of all Americans is still not where it should be, so these grants help enormously by paying for essential equipment, vehicles and training for firefighters at almost 5,000 fire houses in Connecticut and throughout the nation.”
“I’m pleased that the Senate stepped up to the plate and increased the amount of money available to help fund our fire companies,” said Sen. Carper “With states and localities across the country struggling with serious budget challenges, our firefighters need this help now more than ever. The important work that these brave men and women do to keep us safe must continue, regardless of the state of our economy. The additional funding we’ve provided will ensure that hard work of our firefighters continues to be a priority.”
Sen. Carper is co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus.