The Senate has passed legislation providing the United States Fire Administration (USFA) with the increased funding and resources needed to effectively meet the growing demands on the fire service in the new century. The USFA Reauthorization Act, co-authored by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Susan Collins, along with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), also expands the range of training programs offered at the National Fire Academy.
“Since its creation in 1974, the U.S. Fire Administration and its Academy have helped prevent fires, protect property, and save lives among firefighters and the public,” said Senator Collins. “The U.S. Fire Administration also performs critical work to prepare our nation against disasters, whether natural or man-made. As the principle federal agency for America’s fire service, it is simply invaluable to our nation and its firefighters. Many local fire departments in Maine and the rest of the country benefit from the FIRE Act and SAFER Act grants administered by the Department of Homeland Security in cooperation with USFA. These grant programs provide firefighters, including many volunteers, with state-of-the-art protective gear and other life-saving equipment and resources needed to support their work.”
“This legislation is a priority for our organization,” said Bill Webb, executive director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute. “I once again would like to thank Senator Dodd and Senator Collins for the leadership they provide time and time again for our nation’s firefighters.”
Senators Collins is a co-Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, and has been a longtime advocate for the fire service. In 2000, Sen. Collins cosponsored the FIRE Act, a law that gives local fire departments the ability to purchase new equipment and initiate education and training programs. Senator Collins also serves as ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over both the FIRE Act and SAFER Act grant programs.
The USFA provides crucial support to more than 30,000 fire departments across the country through training, emergency incident data collection, fire awareness and education, and research and development activities. Each year, the USFA trains approximately one million fire and emergency medical personnel both at the USFA campus in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and through distance learning programs. The USFA also offers vital assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security in the development of federal preparedness and response policies.
Senators Joe Biden (D-DE) and John McCain (R-AZ) are original cosponsors of the bill. The measure is supported by the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the National Volunteer Fire Council. A similar version of the bill passed the House of Representatives in April. The Senate and House of Representatives will now resolve the differences in conference.