Senate Homeland Security Committee today unanimously approved legislation to reauthorize and increase funding for the U.S. Fire Administration and to expand the National Fire Academy. The bill was authored by Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME), who is Ranking Member of the Committee, and it was cosponsored by Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), the Committee’s Chairman. Other cosponsors include Senators Joe Biden (D-DE) and John McCain (R-AZ).

The legislation will help provide the U.S. Fire Administration with the funding and resources it needs so that the agency will be able to effectively meet the growing demands on the fire service in the new century. Along with reauthorizing and increasing federal funding for the USFA, the measure expands the range of training programs offered at the National Fire Academy.

“Citizens in every community across our nation depend on fire fighters to protect them from harm, and fire fighters depend on the U.S. Fire Administration for the funding and training they need to do their job safely and effectively,” said Senator Dodd. “I thank my colleagues Senator Lieberman, Collins, and the rest of the Homeland Security Committee for recognizing how critically important the U.S. Fire Administration is to the safety of our nation, and applaud them for approving this bill. I look forward to its consideration before the full Senate.”

Senator Collins said, “The U.S. Fire Administration performs critical work to prepare our nation against man-made and natural disasters. As the principle federal agency for America’s fire service, it is simply invaluable to our nation and its firefighters. Through the Fire Administration’s work in helping to administer FIRE Act and SAFER Act grants, our nation’s firefighters are able to access the resources they need to support their work. I am pleased that this bill was approved by the Homeland Security Committee and will work to ensure its passage by the full Senate.”

Senator Lieberman said, “The U.S. Fire Administration provides the expertise and guidance necessary to ensure that essential funding addresses the needs of fire departments across the country. Reauthorization of this bill will guarantee that research and training is up to the minute so that fire fighters rightfully remain at the very core of preparedness and response to disasters of all kinds, whether natural or man-made.”

Bill Webb, executive director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute recently said, “This legislation is a priority for our organization.”

The U.S. Fire Administration provides crucial support to 30,300 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 personnel both at the USFA campus in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and through distance learning programs. As a component of the Department of Homeland Security, the USFA also offers vital assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other entities within the Department of Homeland Security.

The measure is also supported by the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the International Association of Firefighters, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the National Volunteer Fire Council.