WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) voted to pass the Fire Grants and Safety Act, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the U.S. Fire Administration along with funding for the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs for the next several years. These grant programs provide funding directly to fire departments to purchase essential equipment, hire more trained frontline firefighters, develop training and education programs, and more. Together, these programs have delivered over $150 million to support the needs of local fire departments and agencies across Maryland since 2015.
Following the passage of the Fire Grants and Safety Act in the Senate, the legislation must now be considered in the U.S. House. The AFG and SAFER programs will lapse in September 2024 if the House does not vote to send the bill to President Biden’s desk before then.
“Firefighters receive millions of calls for help each year beyond fires, often responding to medical emergencies, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters and active shooter situations. They do it all, and FEMA AFG and SAFER programs provide vital funds for them to do it safely and efficiently,” said Senator Cardin. “As many fire stations across the country struggle to fund equipment, training and staff, I urge our House colleagues to quickly pass this legislation to extend and strengthen these critical public safety initiatives.”
“Our firefighters and fire responders have our backs in times of crisis – now we need to have theirs. For years the AFG and SAFER programs have helped local departments in every corner of our state keep our communities safe. We fought to pass this bipartisan bill so our firefighters can continue to count on federal support to stay fully equipped, staffed, and trained in the years to come. Now the House needs to act as soon as possible,” said Senator Van Hollen.
The Fire Grants and Safety Act would reauthorize the U.S. Fire Administration, the AFG Program, and the SAFER Grant Program through FY2030. The bill would increase the authorization for the U.S. Fire Administration by nearly $20 million, while maintaining the authorized funding for the SAFER and AFG programs at their current levels. This legislation is endorsed by the International Association of Fire Fighters, National Fire Protection Association, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Volunteer Fire Council, Congressional Fire Services Institute, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, and International Society of Fire Service Instructors.
Senator Van Hollen joined by Senator Cardin also recently introduced legislation to provide additional federal resources for local fire companies to modernize their stations. The lawmakers’ bipartisan FIRE STATION Act would create a new $750 million grant program to help modify, upgrade, and construct fire and EMS department facilities.
Highlights of recent AFG and SAFER grant awards for Maryland fire departments:
Frederick County and Western Maryland:
- $8,565,688.64 for Frederick County to hire 32 full-time firefighters
- $1,927,818.18 for Washington County to provide new portable radios for Fire & EMS departments across the County
- $428,571.42 for the Deep Creek Volunteer Fire Co. in Garrett County to replace a 40-year-old tanker
- $97,142.85 for Borden Shaft Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 in Allegany County for vehicle extrication and rescue tools
- $17,388 for the Community Volunteer Fire Company of District No. 12 in Washington County for new gear washer and dryer
Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties
- $720,000 for the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire-Rescue Association to support its high school cadet training program and its tuition assistance firefighter retention program
- $458,400 for the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute at the University of Maryland College Park for the State Training Academy
- $339,260 for the College Park Volunteer Fire Department for recruitment & retention activities
Greater Baltimore Region
- $797,227.27 for the Carroll County Department of Fire and Emergency Services for portable and mobile radios
- $597,900.90 for the Baltimore City Fire Department
- $1,080,909.09 for the Baltimore County Fire Department to provide comprehensive cancer screenings and mental wellness training for first responders
- $389,480 for the Lisbon Volunteer Fire Company in Howard County for firefighter recruitment and retention activities
Eastern Shore Region
- $117,323.80 for Kennedyville Volunteer Fire Department in Kent County to replace Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)
- $49,936.19 for the Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 of Chesapeake City in Cecil County to replace fire hoses
- $46,666.66 for the Eldorado Brookview Volunteer Fire Department in Dorchester County to install a new cascade air station
- $92,125.00 for the Berlin Fire Company in Worcester County for firefighter recruitment and retention activities
- $178,285.71 for the Community Fire Company of Millington in Kent County to replace SCBA
- $177,857.14 for the Benedict Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad and Auxiliary in Charles County to replace Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)
- $176,666.66 for the Bryans Road Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad in Charles County to replace SCBA
- $32,410 for the 2nd District Volunteer Fire Dept & Rescue Squad in St. Mary’s County for new turn out gear