March 16, 2017

Fire Grants Safe in Trump Budget

The President released his proposed 2018 federal spending plan today. The document contains the largest cut to federal programs since the end of World War II.

The only departments to escape his budget ax are Veterans Affairs, Department of Homeland Security and Defense, which will all see increases if the proposed budget is passed.

The Trump budget proposes no cuts to programs such as the Assistance to Firefighters Grant, SAFER or the Fire Prevention and Safety Grant program. These initiatives would be funded at their 2016 amounts.

Other programs that some fire and EMS agencies have accessed in the past to fund apparatus and equipment purchases or the construction or renovation of a new station do not appear to fare as well.

These include the Community Development Block Grant program under the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Community Facilities program under U.S. Department of Agriculture. Both programs would be eliminated under the Trump plan.

Under the Department of the Interior, there is one reference to the agencies wildland fire responsibilities. The document states, “Budgets responsibly for wildland fire suppression expenses. The budget would directly provide the full 10-year rolling average of suppression expenditures.” [sic]

Since 2001, thousands of fire departments across the nation have received over $10 billion in federal grants through the Assistance to Firefighters and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant programs. We have all seen how these two grant programs have benefited our nation’s fire service.

Unless we can convince Congress to reauthorize both programs by the end of this year, they will disappear, as will any future AFG and SAFER grants. It is absolutely crucial that Congress reauthorize these programs in the first session of the 115th Congress.

The AFG and SAFER grant programs are imperative to addressing the needs of more than 1 million fire and emergency services personnel while providing an economic stimulus to American businesses.

Congress created these grant programs to address the baseline needs of our nation’s fire and emergency services to respond to over 30 million emergency calls annually and to continue to reduce community risk.

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