Press Release

March 27, 2023
Cardin, Van Hollen, Murkowski Introduce Bill to Fund Vital Firehouse Upgrades Across the Country

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin, Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help construct and upgrade fire stations across the country. The FIRE STATION Act will create a $750 million grant program within the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to modify, upgrade, and construct fire and EMS department facilities to support our first responders and their work to keep our communities safe.

According to a recent national report on local fire departments across the U.S., 44 percent of fire stations are over 40 years old and in need of significant repairs. Additionally, 56 percent of stations lack exhaust emission control and are not properly equipped with cancer-preventing systems. The survey also finds that many fire and EMS stations across the country have no backup power, have outdated ventilation systems and mold, or even lack crew quarters for female personnel. A survey of Maryland fire departments conducted last year by Senator Van Hollen’s office found similar concerning conclusions along the national trend, revealing that 71 departments across the state need some sort of repair – ranging from renovations, additions, or require entirely new facilities.

“Our fire fighters deserve the best possible facilities so they can be ready with everything they need to spring into action when duty calls. Yet nearly half of the fire stations across America require major repairs – with some even posing serious health hazards to the men and women who protect our communities. This bipartisan bill will unlock more funding to ensure our fire and EMS heroes have modern, safe, and mission-ready facilities,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Those who serve as fire fighters throughout Alaska not only deserve functional facilities – but need them – to help them respond quickly and safely to emergencies. Unfortunately, many fire stations in our state are in dire need of repair and updating—which is why I’m joining my colleagues in this bipartisan measure, the FIRE STATION Act, to invest in our fire stations and to support the people that are always there for our communities when we need them most,” said Senator Murkowski.

“Firefighters and EMS personnel put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe. They deserve the best possible resources and facilities to carry out their vital work,” said Congressman Pascrell. “Our Fire Station Act will provide critical funding to help modernize fire and EMS department facilities across the nation, ensuring that our first responders have the tools they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.”

Bill text is available here.

This legislation is endorsed by theInternational Association of Firefighters (IAFF), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI), and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

“In some of life’s toughest moments, firefighters, many of whom are volunteers, come to their community’s rescue, prioritizing the safety of others. Our gratitude for their public service must be backed up by the funding and resources needed for firefighters to do this difficult job as safely and efficiently as possible,” said Senator Cardin. “We’re introducing legislation to authorize federal funding that would fill in the equipment and infrastructure gaps that so many of our fire stations face.”

“Fire fighters work long shifts that stretch for 24 hours or more. Their fire stations act as second homes. Fire fighters deserve clean, modern, and safe facilities where they can train and rest between emergency responses. Countless fire stations nationwide have fallen into dangerous levels of disrepair – risking fire fighters’ health and safety. Budget-strapped local governments need assistance repairing and replacing these dilapidated stations. The IAFF applauds Representative Pascrell and Senator Van Hollen for introducing the FIRE STATION Act and fighting for the needs of our fire fighters. We urge Congress to pass this legislation and ensure fire fighters have safe and modern stations that allow them to best serve their communities,” said IAFF General President Edward Kelly.

“I thank Senator Van Hollen and Representative Pascrell for the introduction of the FIRE STATION Act,” said Chief Donna M. Black, EFO, CFO, the President and Board Chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. “According to research by the National Fire Protection Association, 43 percent of fire departments have facilities that are more than 40 years old. These facilities may be affected by mold, old ventilation systems, and other environmental problems, and they may not have crew quarters for female fire and EMS personnel. This legislation will help fire departments upgrade their stations to meet the life, safety, and health requirements of the modern fire service.”

“I’d like to thank Senator Van Hollen and Congressman Pascrell for reintroducing this important legislation. Thousands of fire stations across the country are outdated and don’t meet current voluntary consensus standards for health and safety. This problem is particularly acute in smaller, rural communities, which often lack the tax base to properly invest in modern facilities for fire and EMS. The FIRE STATION Act will provide much-needed funds to help fire and EMS departments invest in necessary facilities upgrades,” said Steve Hirsch, Chairman of the National Volunteer Fire Council.

“Our nation’s fire and emergency services personnel work tirelessly to protect their communities. We must ensure that the facilities where they sleep, eat, and work are safe and code-compliant,” said Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute. “CFSI thanks Senators Van Hollen and Murkowski and Congressman Pascrell for introducing this piece of legislation that will invest vital federal funding in fire and emergency services infrastructure across the country. We look forward to working with them and other members of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus on passage of this legislation.”

“NFPA’s latest Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service, issued in late 2021, again found significant firefighter health issues at fire stations across the United States. An estimated 44 percent of fire stations are over 40 years old – a statistic that continues to grow. In addition to outdated designs and mold issues, too many stations lack proper ventilation, backup power and facilities for the growing number of female firefighters. We are pleased to support this effort by leaders of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus to invest in improvements in our nation’s fire stations and the health and safety of our nation’s first responders,” said Jim Pauley, President and CEO, National Fire Protection Association.

Senators Van Hollen and Murkowski were joined in introducing this legislation by U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

“In all kinds of emergencies, firefighters and emergency medical technicians step up to perform essential, life-saving work for our communities,” said Senator Casey. “These heroes have difficult jobs that are too often made harder by crumbling facilities and a lack of resources. The FIRE STATION Act will not only build, renovate, and modernize fire stations across Pennsylvania and our Nation, it will invest in our safety and security and help ensure our first responders are well-equipped and empowered to come to the rescue.” 

“Montana firefighters and first responders put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe,” said Senator Tester. “These brave men and women are often our first line of defense when disaster strikes, and we owe it to them to ensure they have the resources they need when called to action. That’s why I’m proud to team up with folks on both sides of the aisle to stand with Montana firefighters, and I’ll keep fighting to ensure Montana gets these resources to build and maintain our fire stations.”

“Firefighters and first responders put their lives on the line each day, often facing stressful and dangerous situations, to protect Ohioans,” said Senator Brown. “This legislation will help to ensure that Ohio first responders have the resources they need to upgrade their facilities and keep our communities safe.”

“The FIRE STATION Act is a smart investment in enhancing public safety, reducing response times, improving facilities, and ensuring the health and well-being of our firefighters,” said Senator Reed.

Under the FIRE STATION Act, funding can be used for:

  • Building, rebuilding, or renovating fire and EMS department facilities;
  • Upgrading existing facilities to install exhaust emission control systems;
  • Installing backup power systems;
  • Upgrading or replacing environmental control systems, such as HVAC systems;
  • Removing or remediating mold;
  • Constructing or modifying living quarters for use by personnel; and
  • Upgrading fire and EMS stations or building new stations to meet modern building codes and standards as set by the National Fire Protection Association and International Code Council.

Senator Van Hollen and Congressman Pascrell had previously introduced a version of this legislation, titled the Fire Station Construction Grants Act, in 2022.