The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is proud to endorse legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate that would provide federal funding to maintain and build new fire stations across the nation.
The bill, known as the Fire Station Construction Grants Act, was introduced August 1 by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.). The Act would create a $1 billion grant program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to modify, upgrade and construct fire and EMS facilities nationwide.
A recent national survey conducted by the National Fire Protection Association found that 43 percent of surveyed fire departments are over 40 years old and are in crucial need of repair. Furthermore, 59 percent of U.S. fire stations lack exhaust emission control, and are not properly equipped with cancer-preventing systems. In addition, the report finds that many fire and EMS stations across the country have no backup power, have outdated ventilation systems and mold, or even lack crew quarters for female personnel.
“I thank Senator Van Hollen for introducing this important legislation. A large percentage of the nation’s fire stations are more than 40 years old and require important life safety improvements and modifications to meet the needs of a diverse workforce,” said Chief Kenneth W. Stuebing, BHSc, CCP(f), President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. “This legislation will provide funding to help fire departments protect their personnel and I look forward to working with Senator Van Hollen to pass it.”
The Senators’ Fire Station Construction Grants Act authorizes $1 billion in fire station construction grants to be administered by FEMA. Specifically, it directs FEMA to establish a grant program to modify, upgrade, and construct fire and EMS department facilities. These grants can be used for:
- Building, rebuilding, or renovating fire and EMS department facilities;
- Upgrading existing facilities to install exhaust emission control systems;
- Installing backup power systems;
- Upgrading or replacing environmental control systems, such as HVAC systems;
- Removing or remediating mold;
- Constructing or modifying living quarters for use by personnel; and
- Upgrading fire and EMS stations or building new stations to meet modern building codes and standards as set by the National Fire Protection Association and International Code Council.
“Our first responders put their lives on the line every day – running toward danger when others run from it,” Senator Van Hollen said. “They have our backs – and it’s our responsibility to have theirs. Ensuring their stations are modern, safe, and meet the full extent of their needs is critical to helping them meet their mission.”
“It is unthinkable that many of our firefighters depart from and return to century-old firehouses that lack basic climate control or appropriate accommodations for our female firefighters,” said Senator Cardin. “I am proud to have co-sponsored Senator Van Hollen’s important legislation to create a designated federal funding stream for firehouse upgrades.”
The legislation is also endorsed by the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CSFI), the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), International Code Council (ICC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).