U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today received the Legislator of the Year award from the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) for her work as a longtime advocate for America’s firefighters and fire safety measures.

“To be recognized by an organization representing those who risk their lives to serve their local communities is deeply gratifying,” said Senator Collins. “Whether it is a natural or man-made disaster, our local firefighters and emergency personnel are always the first on the scene. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the first responders serving the communities of Maine and throughout the U.S. I will continue to do all I can to ensure they are kept as safe as possible as they protect each of us.”

“Senator Collins is a true friend of the volunteer fire and emergency services,” said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “She was one of the original supporters of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program and continues to be one of the program’s strongest proponents as Co-chair of the Senate Fire Service Caucus and Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

“In the past year, Senator Collins successfully advocated on behalf of measures like the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act, reauthorization of the U.S. Fire Administration, National Fire Prevention Week and National Campus Fire Safety Month. On behalf of the NVFC, it is my pleasure to present the 2009 Legislator of the Year Award to Senator Collins.”

In addition to her efforts as a co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, Senator Collins’ work helping firefighters has included:

• Co-authoring and passing legislation to re-authorize the U.S. Fire Administration;

• Authoring and passing legislation to establish and/or increase funding for the Department of Homeland Security’s grant programs, including the State Homeland Security Grant Program, the Emergency Management Performance Grant Program, and the Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program;

• Seeking increased funding for fire service programs, such as the Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Act Grant programs;

• Authoring and passing legislation to provide grant funding for rural communities to purchase life-saving automated external defibrillators (AEDs), resulting in more than 576 being placed around Maine; and

• Passing an annual Senate Resolution honoring America’s fallen firefighters.

NVFC is a non-profit organization composed of volunteer firefighting, EMS, and rescue services.