Fire departments are warriors at the tip of the spear during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are facing equipment funding shortages and increased personnel costs due to COVID-19 exposures, infections and quarantines. Meanwhile, fire departments are already tracking firefighter and paramedic layoffs and massive budget cuts to fire and EMS departments, while their personnel are still providing pre-hospital care to coronavirus patients.
That is why the IAFC is asking Congress now to provide $5 billion in new coronavirus relief funding for both the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs. By putting federal funds into AFG and SAFER, this money will go directly to you – the fire and EMS agencies on the frontline. Funding in the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), where some members of Congress have suggested funding go for the fire service, does not flow directly from Congress to fire and EMS departments as AFG and SAFER are required to do by law. DRF funding to the fire service is subject to delays and reductions at a time when we need this funding for our firefighters on the frontline now.
We need our senators and representatives to be the heroes of this pandemic by appropriating the necessary funds for local fire departments. The IAFC is in daily contact with Congress and the Administration, they need to hear from each of you. I am calling on all U.S. IAFC members to contact their federal senators and representatives this week and tell them to help you fight the COVID-19 pandemic with a strong response force by supporting $5 billion each for the AFG and SAFER programs.
Through the IAFC Legislative Action Center, you can easily send your federal representatives a message using our suggested language or shape and create your own personal message.
Thank you for all you are doing for your departments, your communities and your association.
Gary Ludwig is IAFC President and Chairman of the Board.