November 18, 2009 (Washington, DC) – The Fire Grants Reauthorization Act passed by a 395-31 vote in the House of Representatives today, providing local firefighters with tools and resources to prevent and fight fires, enhancing community safety. At a time when many cities face budget shortfalls and cuts to basic services, the Act invests in programs that allow local fire departments to provide training, purchase equipment and vehicles, and hire personnel.
Among San Diego’s Congressional delegation, Republicans Duncan Hunter and Brian Bilbray voted yes, along with Democrats Bob Filner and Susan Davis, while Republican Darrell Issa voted no.
“This bill provides critical funding to safeguard our homes, our neighborhoods and — first and foremost — our families,” said Congressman Filner.
The bipartisan legislation authorizes a total of $2.2 billion a year in grants for local municipalities to upgrade crucial equipment and maintain adequate levels of personnel. It also makes it easier for local fire departments to access these critical funds by lowering matching requirements and modifying time commitments.
Ever since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many fire departments and first responders across the country have been overstretched – taking on even more responsibilities to respond to possible terrorist attacks, as well as preventing and fighting fires. This legislation is designed to give our fire departments critical resources to address these threats.
“Our local firefighters — whether they be career or volunteer — must have the best training and equipment at their disposal to keep our communities safe,” Filner stated in a press release. (Other local representatives have not yet issued a statement on the bill.) “State and local governments may be facing falling revenues and shrinking budgets, but they should never have to choose between adequately trained personnel and functioning equipment,” Filner added. “This bill protects against that.”
The bill has the support of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Volunteer Fire Council, the National Fire Protection Association, and the Congressional Fire Services Institute.