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Delaware fire departments secure federal funding through Fire Grants and Safety Act

June 21, 2024

Fire Grants and Safety Act secures funding for Delaware fire departments

The Fire Grants and Safety Act ensures that 58 registered fire departments in Delaware and the Delaware Fire School will continue to have access to federal grant programs, as reported by Delaware Online.

These programs include Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG), providing nearly $4 million in funding to Delaware departments during fiscal years 2021 and 2022.

This bipartisan legislation, authored by Senator Tom Carper and three fellow lawmakers, was three months away from expiring but now heads to the president’s desk, likely securing funding for another five years.

United States Fire Administration receives increased funding

The United States Fire Administration will see new appropriations under S.870, allocating $95 million for each fiscal year from 2024 through 2028.

This marks an increase of nearly $20 million, aimed at enhancing fire training, coordination, and other resources.

The grants included in the reauthorization package support career, combination, and all-volunteer departments with equipment, training, and other emergency response needs.

The bill also includes the ADVANCE Act, which focuses on boosting the development and deployment of new carbon-free nuclear technologies.

Local leaders emphasize the importance of federal grants

Sen. Carper highlighted the importance of the bill for maintaining quality of life amidst climate challenges.

He said: “Quality of life is also the ability to respond to disasters, in many cases, natural disasters.

“That could be lightning strikes; when the area is just incredibly dry; it could be floods that flow from, not just tornadoes and hurricanes, but just from regular high rising seawaters.

“And again, there’s responsibility to deal with these threats.”

Wilmington Fire Chief John Looney echoed Carper’s sentiments, emphasizing the expectations of citizens for fully trained and equipped personnel during emergencies.

He stressed the critical role of grants, particularly the Assistance to Firefighters and SAFER grants, in supporting operations and securing personnel.

Delaware State Fire Prevention Commission’s new mental health program

In response to the increased awareness of first responder burnout and mental health struggles, the Delaware State Fire Prevention Commission launched a Mental Health & Resiliency Program this year.

Additionally, a new bill passed through the General Assembly will enable counties to impose a fee on properties to support the state’s fire departments.

House Bill 127, awaiting Gov. John Carney’s signature, allows counties to enforce a “fire protection fee” on properties, excluding state-owned and tax-exempt properties.

Sen. Carper commented on the federal legislation: “Firefighters put their lives on the line every day to protect families and communities across the First State and the country.

“It is our duty as lawmakers to provide the critical tools and training they need to effectively do their jobs, and I’m proud to have led the effort to send the bipartisan Fire Grants and Safety Act to President Biden’s desk.”

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