Legislation Reauthorizing FIRE Act Introduced


The measure failed during the last session because issues could not be resolved.

If passed, funding will be provided for three grant programs: SAFER, AFG and Fire Prevention and Safety. The re-authorization would last for five years.

Legislators who introduced the bill include Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Susan Collins, R-Me., Tom Carper, D-Del., and Scott Brown, R-Mass.

Lieberman said of the programs: "Over the past ten years, firefighters across the nation have assumed a larger role in emergency preparedness. More than ever, first responders need the training and equipment to deal with not just fires, but hazardous materials, nuclear, explosive and radioactive threats and other potential dangers. This legislation takes much-needed steps to ensure that our courageous first responders have what they need to protect their communities and themselves as they perform a very dangerous job."

Collins called the FIRE Act grant programs one of the most successful.

"Our bill retains and builds upon the most important provisions that enabled the Fire Act grant program to be successful -- a competitive process for evaluating applications, awards made directly to local communities, and a proven peer review process that functions well. Because of this bill, fire departments will continue to receive the support they need to purchase equipment and vehicles and conduct the training and exercises necessary to perform their jobs well," she said in a prepared statement.

Some departments are depending on SAFER money to re-hire emergency personnel side-lined due to budget woes.

Funds also are used to purchase firefighting equipment as well as promote research and fire prevention activities.

Carper said: "Every day, the men and women of our fire and emergency service organizations put their lives on the line to protect our communities and our property in Delaware and across the country, and it is essential that we give them the equipment, training and resources necessary to do their jobs in a safe and effective manner. As co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, I'm committed to ensuring our first responders get the tools they need. That's why I'm proud to co-sponsor this legislation, the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2011, which is critically important to firefighters and emergency service organizations throughout the country."

The bill includes a number of accountability measures, including performance assessments and a competitive award process.

It also requires the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress the effect changes to the grant programs have had on mitigating fire, fire-related and other hazards.