U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today introduced legislation with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) that would help provide the United States Fire Administration (USFA) 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. Senators Joe Biden (D-DE) and John McCain (R-AZ) are original cosponsors of the bill. 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.

“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 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. 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 proud to join Senator Dodd in supporting the activities of the U.S. Fire Administration and will continue to fight with him to provide crucial funding for our nation’s firefighters.”

“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 Dodd and Collins, two of the co-Chairs of the Congressional Fire Caucus, have been longtime advocates for fire safety. In 2000, Dodd authored and Collins cosponsored the FIRE Act, a law that gives local fire departments the ability to purchase new equipment and initiate education and training programs. In 2003, Dodd also authored the SAFER Act, a law that gives local fire departments the ability to reduce critical shortfalls in professional and volunteer personnel. In addition, Senator Collins currently serves as ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over both the FIRE and SAFER programs.

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. The USFA also offers vital assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the development of federal preparedness and response policies.