IAFC President and Chairman of the Board Bill Metcalf testified before the U.S. House of Representatives and raised concerns about the Administration’s proposal to consolidate the 16 homeland-security preparedness grants into one program.
Metcalf delivered the testimony to the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications of the Committee on Homeland Security during a hearing of stakeholders about the potential impact FEMA’s grant consolidation proposal would have on first responders and communities. The subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Susan W. Brooks (R-Ind.).
“The new National Preparedness Grant (NPG) proposal continues to have major problems,” said Metcalf, chief, North County Fire Protection District, Fallbrook, Calif. “For example, the IAFC is concerned that the NPG relies on the ‘threat and hazard identification and risk assessment’ — or THIRA — process to identify threats, risks and vulnerabilities. In addition, the NPG will use THIRA results to allocate funding. Throughout the nation, local involvement in state THIRAs is uneven. For example, I was not asked to participate in California’s THIRA.”
Metcalf said the IAFC is concerned by the NPG’s state-centric focus.
“In many regions, preparedness depends on a multistate, multidisciplinary approach,” Metcalf said. “The National Capital Region is a good example of this approach. The NPG’s state-centric approach could build barriers to cooperation in multistate regions.”
Other concerns outlined by Metcalf about the grant consolidation proposal include:
- Firefighting is not spelled out as a specific core capability.
- The elimination of the 25% set-aside for the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP).
- FEMA’s proposal to expand the definition of “local unit of government” does not include nongovernmental and potentially for-profit entities.
- FEMA’s FY 2015 budget proposal cuts funding for the homeland security preparedness grants by approximately 18%.
“I would like to emphasize the importance of ensuring that local, state and federal partners are all equal participants in the national preparedness system,” Metcalf said. “From the perspective of a local fire chief, both staffing and equipment are locally owned. Local fire chiefs need to be involved in the THIRA process.”