Firefighting, Legal

Congress passes legislation to reauthorize U.S. Fire Administration

Congress recently passed the U.S. Fire Administration Reauthorization Act of 2008. The legislation was sponsored by Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joseph Biden (D-DE) and John McCain (R-AZ) and Representatives Harry Mitchell (D-AZ) and Phil Gingrey (R-GA).

The bill includes a number of recommendations supported by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), which are intended to ensure the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is able to provide strong support to the fire service community as it fulfills its many critical missions and responds to emerging challenges. The legislation will:

  • Authorize appropriations for the USFA for four years, starting with $70 million in FY 2009 and ending with $76.49 million in FY 2012 to promote long-term funding stability for the agency.

  • Authorize $5 million from FY 2009 to FY 2011 to update the National Fire Incident Reporting System to make it a more effective real-time, Internet-based reporting tool.

  • Authorize the National Fire Academy (NFA) to teach classes relating to fires in the wildland-urban interface, hazardous-materials incidents and advanced EMS training.

  • Require a triennial report on curricula changes at NFA, including how these changes reflected lessons learned from significant emergency events and emergency preparedness exercises.
  • Direct the U.S. fire administrator to use the Internet to publicize information on its fire-related research.
  • Encourage the USFA to promote the adoption of national voluntary consensus standards, including the standards related to firefighter operations, training, staffing and fitness.
  • Authorize the U.S. fire administrator to coordinate EMS-related activities with federal, state and local government agencies.

  • Support the adoption of fire sprinklers in commercial buildings and the USFA’s educational programs to raise public awareness about the importance of residential fire sprinklers.

  • Ensure state and local fire service representation at the DHS National Operations Center to better facilitate information sharing, a provision the IAFC has strongly supported.

“I am very pleased Congress has enacted this important legislation, which will strengthen the USFA and enhance federal support to the fire service,” said Chief Larry Grorud, IAFC president. “I look forward to the president signing the bill into law.”

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