The House and Senate conferees for the VA/HUD Appropriations Bill recently voted to approve the conference agreement for their bill that includes $150 million in appropriations for FY 2002 for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. While this appropriations bill does not completely address the needed funding for the program, it does represent a 50% increase from FY 2001. Moreover, it far exceeds the three percent increase in overall spending for the bill.
In FY 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency received 30,000 applications totaling almost $3 billion. Recently, Senator Chris Dodd successfully attached an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill to increase the authorization level of the grant program to $600 million, $800 million and $1 billion for Fiscal Years 2002, 2003, and 2004, respectively. Congressman Curt Weldon is currently working to increase the authorization to $1 billion for all three years.
The events of September 11th have brought greater attention to the fire and emergency services. With this new focus, there will be opportunities for additional funding for this year, but it will take the unified effort of the entire fire service. Monitor www.cfsi.org for up-to-date information on the effort to secure additional funding.