$3B Firefighter Staffing Package Hinges on Senate-House Compromise

Thursday, the Senate adopted an amendment to the defense authorization bill that will establish a program to assist local governments in hiring additional fire fighters.

The bill authorizes $3 billion over three years to facilitate the hiring and retention of needed fire fighters to augment -- across the nation -- safer, more efficient fire service responses to all hazards and risks, including acts of terrorism. This legislation to fund the hiring of additional fire fighters will improve homeland security and the safety of our citizens.

The Senate is expected to complete work on the defense authorization bill Friday. The House has already passed its version, which does not contain the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Firefighters Act (SAFER) provision. Soon the bill will go to a Senate-House conference to negotiate a single bill.

While the Senate measure is not the full SAFER package originally approved by the IAFC ($7 billion over seven years), we nonetheless support the Senate action because it addresses the policy question and moves the issue forward.

The IAFC will be working with both Senate and House conferees on retaining the provision in final passage and improving the provisions where possible