President Biden has signed a $1.7 trillion omnibus appropriations bill last week that includes funding for several critical fire service programs.
The omnibus package includes $360 million each for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs, ensuring there will be a FY 2023 AFG, SAFER and Fire Prevention and Safety application period.
The spending bill includes $360 million each for AFG and SAFER in FY 2023. The USFA will receive $58.287 million (an increase) for FY 2023.
The AFG and SAFER grant programs still face a statutory termination date of September 30, 2024. The USFA is not affected by this sunset date.
“The AFG and SAFER programs help to provide our local departments with resources vital to protecting our communities and funding to increase personnel capacity so that we may deliver emergency services to our citizens,” said Chief Donna Black, President, and Board Chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. “By passing this legislation, Congress gives us the support we need to protect and care for millions of Americans at their most critical time of need.”
There is still work to be done to preserve the future of the grant programs. Senators and Representatives will have to pass legislation in the 118th Congress (starting in January) to extend the “sunset” dates for the AFG and SAFER grant programs and authorize funding for the USFA, AFG, and SAFER grant programs. We do not know what steps the Federal Emergency Management Agency might take to wind down the AFG and SAFER programs. Our goal at the IAFC is to prevent that eventuality.