The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) has produced an educational video designed to increase awareness about the importance of the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Programs. Featuring prominent fire service leaders and a cadre of firefighters from various fire service fields, the video highlights the many benefits of the two grant programs – from enhancing the response capabilities for all types of emergencies to stimulating local economies through the manufacturing of equipment and apparatus. The video can be watched on the CFSI Web site.
Fire service officials are encouraged to share the video with their members of Congress – and for that matter, their state and local officials. Our elected leaders need to understand the many roles of today’s firefighters and the training, equipment and personnel they need to protect our homelands. While firefighters continue to perform their mission of fire suppression, EMS, rescue and prevention, so much has changed within the service that our elected officials need to understand. The fire service will remain a local responsibility but because of the added homeland security responsibilities the fire service has assumed in a post 9-11 world, our elected leaders need to understand the obligations all levels of government must assume to train, equip and staff our nation’s fire and emergency services.
By design, the video is succinct. Lasting approximately six minutes, it highlights some of the key benefits of both AFG and SAFER as communicated by actual firefighters. It can be played during meetings with elected officials and their staff or mailed to congressional offices. If the latter, a letter should accompany the video explaining from a local perspective why support for AFG and SAFER is so important to the fire service.
Congress is in the process of approving funding for both AFG and SAFER for Fiscal Year 2011. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security approved $420 million for both programs. The Senate Appropriations Committee, however, approved $420 million for SAFER and $390 for AFG. The two programs are equally important as they both address critical needs for departments in rural and urban communities. Hence, in your communications with your members, urge them to support $420 million for both programs for Fiscal Year 2011.
In your communications, include the key points enumerated in the video. Remind them that the American fire and emergency services responds to 22 million emergency calls, annually. Also express in your own words how AFG and SAFER are having a positive impact at the local level. As the late former Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill once said, “Politics is local.”
To receive a copy of the video, send an email request to CFSI at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name and mailing address.
Established in 1989, the Congressional Fire Services Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy institute designed to educate Congress about the needs and challenges of our nation’s one million firefighters and emergency services personnel. Since AFG was established in 2000, CFSI has led efforts to unite the various voices of the national fire and emergency services organizations into one voice in support for both AFG and SAFER. While the Institute has not benefited directly from either program, it continues to be the strongest advocate for the programs. CFSI recognizes that both AFG and SAFER continue to have significant impact on keeping our communities safe, which is why they continue to encourage greater support for both programs.
For more information about the Congressional Fire Services Institute, please visit www.cfsi.org.