CTA: Firefighters must advocate for AFG and SAFER funding
Call your senators about restoring the proposed $22 million in fire grant program cuts
On July 27, the Senate Appropriations Committee considered its Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill. The bill proposes cuts to the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program.
In FY 2023, the AFG and SAFER grant programs received $360 million for each program.
President Biden proposed $370 million for each program in FY2024.
The House Appropriations Committee reported its version of the FY2024 DHS Appropriations bill (H.R. 4367) with $360 million for each program. However, the Senate Appropriations Committee’s bill would only allocate $338 million for each program.
In response, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI), the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) joined together on Thursday to call upon Congress to restore funding to these programs.
The statement reads, in part: “The AFG and SAFER grant programs provide lifelines to fire and EMS departments across the nation that are caught between increasing costs and an acceleration of new missions. Every year fire departments submit applications totaling approximately $2 billion for the AFG program and approximately $1-$2 billion for the SAFER grant program. Instead of cutting these highly effective programs, we urge Congress to restore their funding. We also ask members of the fire and emergency service community to take action and contact their Senators and Representatives to protect the AFG and SAFER grant programs.”
What you can do
Congress is currently on August recess. Please use this time to meet with your senators to explain the importance of the AFG and SAFER grant programs for your fire department’s operations. You can contact their district office to schedule a meeting and discuss any previous AFG or SAFER grants that your department has received and the important part they played in your department’s ability to answer alarms and to meet standards.
Another idea is to get a group of departments from your area to schedule an event that showcases apparatus and equipment that these departments have received through AFG. Demonstrate the items for your senators. Explain to them how they work and how they are utilized at an incident. Also explain to them how much each piece costs and how your department could not afford to purchase it without AFG funding. Additionally, if there are vendors in your area, invite them to be a part of it. Have them stress to your senators the number of jobs that are sustained in their industry by your purchases.
Take action now
Slashing $22 million from AFG and SAFER would be devastating to the fire service. Your senator needs to hear from their constituents about the importance of fully funding these programs at $370 million. Take a few minutes from your daily schedule and schedule a meeting with your senator, and consider joining forces with other departments to stage a regional event. If you can’t do either of those, then pick up your phone and call or email your senator today. It may be the most important call you make or email you send this year.
Fire service groups call on Senate restore grants program funding
The Senate version of the DHS Appropriations bill would cut AFG and SAFER grant funding by $22 million