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House, Senate Pass FY 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act

The House and Senate have passed the FY 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act. It's mostly good news for the fire and emergency service. One big concern is the legislation does not include any language authorizing the ALERT grants at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Here are highlights:

Millions of Dollars

Program

FY 2017

FY 2018 (President’s Budget)

FY 2018

Omnibus

(H.R. 1625)

FIRE

345

344.344

350

SAFER

345

344.344

350

 

USFA

44

43.41

44.397 [1]

USAR

38.28

27.5

35.18

UASI

605

448.844

630

SHSGP

467

349.362

507

US DOI Wildland Fire

942.7

873.5

 

948.1

USDA Wildland Fire

2,833

2,495

2,880

Volunteer Fire Assistance

15

11.6

16 [2]

State Fire Assistance

78

69.4

80



[1] This amount includes $1.497 million in the FEMA Procurement, Construction and Improvements account for the National Emergency Training Center.

[2] The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 moves the VFA and SFA grants out of the Wildland Fire Management account and into the State and Private Forestry Account.

Other Noteworthy Provisions:

  • The DHS Secretary may waive requirements to the SAFER grant program to allow firefighters to be retained or re-hired using SAFER grant funds.
  • The bill does not include any language authorizing the ALERT grants at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
  • The State Fire Training Grants will be funded by USFA.
  • The DHS Office of Health Affairs will be combined into a new Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. The omnibus bill appropriates $500,000 for the voluntary anthrax vaccine program for emergency responders.
  • USDA and DOI are directed to work with the FAA to develop an overall strategy for integrated unmanned aerial systems in the federal firefighting mission.
  • Beginning in FY 2020 and lasting through FY 2027, the USDA and DOI can access the disaster cap for additional funds for federal wildland fire suppression efforts once they have expended an amount equal to the ten-year average frozen at the 2015 level. Furthermore, each year when the cap is accessed to fund wildland fire suppression efforts, the USDA and DOI must report to Congress on their use of funds as well as decisions made while suppressing the largest fires that year. This funding fix does not prohibit the USDA or DOI from engaging in “fire borrowing.”
  • The bill also will recalculate the Disaster Cap Adjustment to add $4.59 billion in FY 2019; $5.72 billion in FY 2020; and $6.38 billion in FY 2021.
  • By 2020, the USDA must create a fire risk map which identifies communities at risk for wildland fires as well as an analysis of the severity of that risk. After identifying these communities, the USDA must disseminate web-based information to these communities to improve fire education and develop risk management and mitigation plans.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Serviced Administration (SAMHSA) currently makes grants available to support mental health first aid programs. The explanatory report which accompanied the omnibus requires SAMHSA to consider fire departments and EMS agencies as eligible recipients of these grants.
  • The omnibus bill also contains roughly $1 billion in new grant funding for addressing the opioid crisis.

Ken LaSala is the IAFC's director of Government Relations and Policy.


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