Congress to reduce funding for AFG and SAFER program by 10%

March 25, 2024

IAFC expresses concern over reduced federal emergency funding

The U.S. House of Representatives unveiled a $1.2 trillion funding package aimed at supporting various federal programs and averting a government shutdown before the March 22 deadline.

This legislative action, poised for voting over the weekend by both the House and Senate, includes significant funding reductions for key Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant programs.

Specifically, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs face a $36 million cut, reducing their allocation to $324 million.

Additionally, the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) program sees a $61.5 million decrease to $553.5 million, and the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) is cut by $52 million, bringing its new total to $468 million.

Mixed outcomes for emergency services and programs

Despite these reductions, certain programs have witnessed either stable funding or slight increases.

The U.S. Fire Administration is set to receive over $71 million, albeit lower than President Biden’s request, yet sufficient to fund the development of the new National Emergency Response Information System.

The National Urban Search & Rescue System enjoys a $3 million boost to $40.832 million, and the SIREN grant program, crucial for rural EMS, is up by $1 million to $11.5 million.

Moreover, the National Firefighter Registry for Cancer will receive the full $5.5 million as requested.

IAFC urges action from members

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is mobilizing its membership to respond to these budgetary adjustments.

The organization emphasizes the importance of the AFG, SAFER, UASI, and SHSGP programs for community and personnel safety, urging its members to contact their Senators and Representatives to convey their concerns.

This call to action highlights the substantial demand for the AFG and SAFER programs, as evidenced by the more than $2 billion in federal assistance requested for each program in Fiscal Year 2021.

Furthermore, the IAFC encourages members to engage directly with lawmakers by visiting Washington, D.C., on April 29 and 30.

This visit will coincide with the 34th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner, offering an opportune moment for in-person advocacy to restore funding for the upcoming year.

FSJA Comment

The International Association of Fire Chiefs’ call to its members to address the recent funding cuts highlights a critical juncture for emergency services across the United States.

With the reductions to the AFG, SAFER, UASI, and SHSGP programs, the potential impact on the ability of fire departments and emergency services to maintain adequate staffing levels, equipment, and readiness is a growing concern.

As communities nationwide rely on the readiness and capability of their emergency services, the outcome of these funding discussions will have lasting implications on public safety and emergency preparedness.

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