On Wednesday, July 12th, the House Science, Technology and Space Committee’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology conducted a hearing to the review the United States Fire Administration (USFA), the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Program. The hearing, entitled “U.S. Fire Administration and Fire Grant Programs Reauthorization: Examining Effectiveness and Priorities,” featured witnesses from USFA and a number of national fire service organizations. CFSI submitted comments for the record, which can be viewed here.
USFA is the lead federal agency for our nation’s fire and emergency services. Its core mission is divided into four program areas: data collection, public education, technology development, and training. Congress created the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs to address the baseline needs of our nation’s fire and emergency services. These two highly successful programs help ensure that our nation’s more than 30,000 fire departments have the necessary training, equipment, and staffing to respond to over 30 million emergency calls annually and work to reduce community risk. Legislation reauthorizing these critical programs is expected to be introduced in the House in the coming weeks.
On May 17th, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs unanimously approved S. 829, the AFG and SAFER Program Reauthorization Act of 2017. The legislation reauthorizes the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG), the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER), and Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) grant programs through Fiscal Year 2023. Additionally, the legislation removes a “sunset” provision in the current authorizing statute that would eliminate the programs on January 2, 2018.