WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight, announced they have secured additional resources to support firefighters and emergency management in the comprehensive COVID-19 relief package that they voted to advance today.
“Cash-strapped state and local governments need support to help weather the crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Peters. “I was proud to work alongside Senator Hassan to help secure these vital funds that will ensure firefighters and emergency responders have the resources they need as they continue to work on the front lines to help keep our communities safe as we work to control this pandemic.”
“Firefighters and first responders continue to bravely step up on the frontlines of this pandemic to help protect our communities even as they face greater risks to their own health,” said Senator Hassan. “Fire departments and emergency management services have been stretched especially thin due to the pandemic, which is why it is so important that we secured additional support for them in this upcoming relief package.”
“The pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn have stretched fire departments thin, leaving many communities forced to lay off firefighters in the coming year. The additional $300 million for fire departments included in the American Recovery Act by Senator Peters and Senator Hassan will keep thousands of firefighters on the job ensuring communities nationwide remain safe during this time of crisis,” said Harold Schaitberger, General President, International Association of Firefighters.
“The International Association of Fire Chiefs thanks Chairmen Peters and Hassan for supporting funding for the AFG and SAFER grant programs. Fire departments continue to respond every day to COVID-19 cases in their communities, while facing shortages of lifesaving equipment and budget cuts caused by the economic slowdown. In addition, many fire departments are participating in public vaccination campaigns. This funding will help local fire departments continue to serve their communities during this time of need. We urge the Senate to pass this legislation,” said Chief Ken Stuebing, Acting President and Chairman of the Board, International Association of Fire Chiefs.
The package includes $300 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant programs — $200 million for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants and $100 million for Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG) — that go to local fire departments that support firefighters’ access to personal protective equipment, funding for sick leave and overtime, and additional resources that fire departments need amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It also includes $100 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants to help respond to disasters and emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.