On June 4, Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) introduced legislation (H.R. 3728) to spend $1 billion to upgrade, rebuild or build fire or EMS facilities. The bill was cosponsored by Representatives Mike Bost (R-IL); Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA); John Garamendi (D-CA); Julia Brownley (D-CA); Jared Huffman (D-CA); Salud Carbajal (D-CA); and Mikie Sherill (D-NJ). The bill is supported by the IAFC; the International Association of Fire Fighters; the National Volunteer Fire Council; the National Fire Protection Association; and the Congressional Fire Services Institute.
The legislation would create a $1 billion grant program at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It would use the same peer review process as is used for the Assistance to Firefighters and SAFER grant programs to make the awards.
Fire and EMS department could use the funding to:
- Rebuild, renovate or build new fire and EMS department facilities.
- Upgrade existing facilities to install exhaust emission control systems; install backup power systems; upgrade or replace environmental control systems, such as HVAC systems; remove or remediate mold; and construct or modify living quarters for use by male and female personnel.
- Upgrade fire and EMS stations or build new stations to meet modern building codes and standards as set by the National Fire Protection Association and International Code Council.
- To ensure that the whole fire and EMS service would be able to participate in the program, awards would be allocated so that:
- 25% of the grants would be for career fire and EMS departments.
- 25% of the grants would be for combination fire and EMS departments.
- 25% of the grants would be for volunteer fire and EMS departments.
- The remaining 25% would be open to competition between the various department types.
- “Third-service” EMS would be eligible for the grant programs.
Congress created a Fire Station Construction grant program after the Great Recession as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA; P.L. 111-5). Congress appropriated $210 million for the program. FEMA received over 6,000 applications for these funds, which totaled $9.9 billion in federal funds. FEMA awarded 119 grants under this program totaling $207.461 million. By asking for $1 billion and limiting awards sizes to $7.5 million, the new legislation intends to allow more fire and EMS departments to participate in the program.
The IAFC is working to add this legislation to the infrastructure legislation being considered by Congress. Please contact your Representative and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 3728. In addition, you can easily contact your representatives through the IAFC Legislative Action Center.
Ken LaSala is the director of government relations and policy for the IAFC.