Bill Cuts USFA, Grants; USAR Funding Raised

Drastic cuts to the USFA, SAFER and AFG were included in the conference report to the "megabus" appropriations bill passed by the Senate on Saturday.

The measure -- now awaiting President Obama's signature – was the last thing Senators had to do before heading home for the holidays.

The bill -- which is 1,221 pages long -- includes an increase in funding for ¬Urban Search and Rescue Teams.

Despite the $67.5M cut to SAFER, the IAFF said they were pleased.

“This is a significant victory for IAFF affiliates across the nation, because it will provide substantial funding to hire, rehire and retain fire fighters and paramedics," IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger said in a prepared statement. "This funding will improve public safety and translate into thousands of jobs.”

CFSI Executive Director Bill Webb said Monday: "It's going to be a tough year, no question. It appears all funding programs are in Congress' cross hairs..."

Other features of the measure, according to the IAFC, include:

* The U.S. Fire Administration would receive $44.04 million, which is an approximately $1.55 million cut. This cut is less than the President and the House of Representatives proposed.

* The waivers for the requirements to the SAFER grant program were extended for both FY 2011 and FY 2012, so that fire departments also can re-hire and retain firefighters.

* The FIRE and SAFER grants would be funded at $337.5 million each, which is a cut of $67.5 million for each program.

* Funding for all of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's homeland security grants, including the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS), the State Homeland Security Grant Program, the Urban Areas Security Initiative, Citizen Corps, and the Interoperable Communications Grant would be a combined $1.350 billion, allocated at the Secretary's discretion.

* The Urban Search and Rescue teams would receive $41.25 million, an increase of approximately $6 million.

* The combined funding for the FLAME funds at the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Interior would be $407.89 million, an increase of $55.89 million.