On Wednesday June 6th the House of Representatives passed an amendment to H.R. 5855, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2013. The amendment authored by Congressmen Jon Runyan (R-NJ) and Steve LaTourette (R-OH) would increase the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants and the Assistance to Firefighter Grants (FIRE) by $2.5 Million each, bringing them to Fiscal Year 2012 levels. The amendment passed by voice vote.
"I am pleased that the House of Representatives was able to come together in a bipartisan manner and pass this amendment to ensure our first responders have adequate funding," said Congressman Runyan. "These grants play a vital role in helping equip or hire additional staff that our firefighters and emergency responders need to provide the best services possible. In these tough economic times it is important that we prioritize our nation's spending so that we can ensure adequate funding for critical groups, such as first responders."
The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFCS) issued a statement in support of the amendment saying in part, "The FIRE and SAFER grant program provide the means to enhance preparedness and response capabilities nationwide to all types of hazards -- capabilities that are utilized everyday by our nation's firefighters and emergency services personnel. Hence, the federal investment is not only needed, but also justified."
Congressman Runyan's amendment continues his pledge to not increase spending, as this amendment is revenue neutral and does not increase spending. The SAFER Grants were created to provide assistance to local communities to hire properly trained firefighters. The Assistance to Firefighter Grants were established in 2001 as a way to help first responders obtain the equipment and resources that are needed to ensure the safety of their community.
Congressmen Runyan and LaTourette were joined by a bipartisan group of co-sponsors who supported this amendment. They included Hansen Clarke (D-MI), Larry Kissel (D-NC), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Aaron Schock (R-IL).
Attached are letters from the International Association of Firefighters, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey endorsing Congressman Runyan's amendment.