Legislation to Reauthorize AFG, SAFER Programs Headed to Biden's Desk

June 19, 2024
The vital funding programs were saved Tuesday evening by the Senate on an 88-2 vote

Sighs of relief were likely widespread in  fire and rescue stations across the country Tuesday evening after the Senate voted overwhelmingly to save the SAFER and AFG programs.

The bi-partisian measure is now headed to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Just as it was in the House of Representatives, the Senate passed the legislation by a wide margin -- 88-2. 

Last month, the House voted 393-13 to keep the programs alive. 

If the measure had not passed, the vital funding programs for fire, rescue and EMS departments across the country would have sunset on Sept. 30.

"I think this is a testament of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. They promoted a strong bi-partisan measure," said Sean Carroll, director of government relations for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. 

The strong leadership in the bi-partisan caucus as well as the advocacy from fire service organizations and responders  brought the legislation across the finish line.

"I just hope everyone realizes their push made the difference," he said, adding that informing the legislators about the needs was crucial. 

Letters of support that outlined the need for the legislation were signed by officials from 38 fire and rescue service organizations. 

"Congress cannot allow the two largest forms of federal support to disappear. Without
these programs, our communities will be ill-prepared to respond to acts of terrorism, natural
disasters, and “routine” emergencies like house fires and medical emergencies," they wrote.

After the vote Tuesday evening, Congressman Bill Pascrell, D-NJ, who introduced the legislation, wrote a statement: “When I came to Congress, fire departments across America were literally holding bake sales to pay for their gear. The Assistance to Firefighter Grants were the first program ever to send federal dollars directly to fire departments. Since their creation, the AFG and SAFER programs have provided over $14 billion to fire departments and first responders from coast-to-coast. They have saved countless lives. This critical legislation will ensure our government continues to give our local firefighters the help they need to protect us. I await its signing by President Biden. God bless our fire heroes.” 

About the Author

Susan Nicol | News Editor

Susan Nicol is the news editor for Firehouse.com. She is a life member and active with the Brunswick Volunteer Ambulance & Rescue Company, Oxford Fire Company and Brunswick Vol. Fire Co. Susie has been an EMT in Maryland since 1976. Susie is vice-president of the Frederick County Fire/Rescue Museum. She is on the executive committee of Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association. She also is part of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) Region II EMS Council. Susie is a board member of the American Trauma Society, Maryland Division. Prior to joining the Firehouse team, she was a staff writer for The Frederick News-Post, covering fire, law enforcement, court and legislative issues. 

Voice Your Opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Firehouse, create an account today!