DEARBORN, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, toured Dearborn Fire Station 2 to discuss the need to pass his bipartisan legislation to renew federal grants programs that are set to expire in the coming years. During the visit, Peters highlighted how the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) programs provide critical federal resources to Michigan fire stations like Fire Station 2. Peters met with firefighters who have been hired using SAFER grant funding, saw a demonstration using equipment that was purchased with funding from the AFG program, and discussed his legislation to ensure these important federal programs do not expire and leave local fire departments without the resources needed to protect Michigan communities. Peters also discussed a second bill – which will soon be signed into law – to protect firefighters from hazardous PFAS chemicals. Peters was joined by Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud and Dearborn Fire Chief Joseph Murray at the station.
“Firefighters put their lives on the line each and every day to protect our communities – and they should be able to count on Congress to have their backs as they risk their health and safety,” said Senator Peters. “That is why we must work to pass my bipartisan legislation to extend these in demand grant programs that fire stations in Michigan and across the nation depend on to safeguard our communities and improve health and safety outcomes for firefighters and other emergency personnel.”
Peters continued: “I’m also proud that the President will soon my bill into law that will protect these brave first responders from harmful PFAS chemicals that are often found in firefighting foams and equipment. I’ll continue working to support our brave firefighters so they can do their jobs safely and help our communities better prepare for and respond to emergencies.”
“I applaud Senator Peters for his continued leadership on the Fire Grants and Safety Act and the PFAS Act,” said Abdullah Hammoud, Mayor of the City of Dearborn, Michigan. “Both pieces of legislation will improve the health and safety outcomes for our brave firefighters who have dedicated their lives to protecting others. I am thankful to Senator Peters for his work to support our communities.”
“I’d like to thank Senator Peters for leading efforts to protect firefighters in Dearborn and across the country,” said Joseph Murray, Dearborn Fire Chief. “His efforts to reauthorize critical federal programs that our Departments rely on and reduce firefighters’ exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals shows his unique understanding of our needs and continued commitment to keeping first responders safe. I am grateful for his service and look forward to continuing to work together in the future.”
During the visit, Peters toured the fire station to see how funding from the SAFER and AFG programs has allowed Dearborn firefighters to do their jobs more effectively. Peters saw a safety demonstration of a car accident rescue technique using equipment purchased with AFG funds, and met with firefighters who were hired using SAFER grants. Since 2013, the Dearborn Fire Department has received more than $9 million in grants from both of these federal programs, and has used the funding to hire additional personnel, acquire new vehicles – including an ambulance – and purchase new nozzles, saws, and ventilation fans. Last year, they used funding from the AFG program to fund cancer screenings for 120 firefighters. In 2021, Michigan fire departments received from more than $10.8 million from the AFG program, and more than $8 million from the SAFER grant program. The visit highlighted the need to pass Peters’ Fire Grants and Safety Act to reauthorize these critical grant programs that local fire departments use to address staffing needs, purchase equipment, and develop fire training and education programs, and improve emergency medical services.
Peters also his discussed his bipartisan legislation – that will soon be signed into law – to help protect the health and safety of firefighters and emergency responders from PFAS exposure. The Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act directs federal agencies to develop best practices, training, and educational programs to reduce, limit and prevent exposure to PFAS, also known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they do not naturally break down. The legislation passed the Senate last summer and the House earlier this month.