Provided by Congresswoman Barbara Comstock’s Office
Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA) released the following statement after the House Representatives passed her legislation by voice vote, H.R. 4661, the United States Fire Administration, AFG, and SAFER Program Reauthorization Act of 2017. AFG (Assistance to Firefighters Grant) awards and SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response) grants help provide necessary firefighting gear and training to firefighters and emergency responders, among other critical functions. The legislation authorizes $750 million for both programs:
“As I travel throughout my district and visit with firefighters and paramedics, I am constantly reminded of the sacrifices they make to protect our neighbors. Sadly, across our nation last year, 69 brave men and women lost their lives in the line of duty. This legislation will reauthorize $750 million for the USFA, AFG, and SAFER programs for six years, and ensure that our nation’s firefighters and paramedics have the tools and training they need to safely fight and prevent devastating fires. The Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department has received over $16 million since 2002 through these grant programs. The Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Department has also received over $3.5 million since 2002 through these programs.
“AFG awards provide funding for new innovative technologies, equipment and training to ensure the safety of our nation’s first responders. With the reauthorization of this program firefighters in the field will be able to receive technological advanced equipment that will keep them safer and save lives. The SAFER Act awards help local fire departments recruit, hire, and retain trained firefighters. Many firefighting departments in my district rely on these grants in order to maintain high quality fire and emergency services for their communities. This legislation advances these critical priorities for our first responders who are the frontlines in emergencies that can impact whole families and communities. I am pleased that we also have the support of our local firefighters in our communities for this important first responder bill.
“The reauthorization of the FIRE and SAFER grant programs demonstrates the continued excellent support of Congress, in particular Representative Comstock, for the nation’s fire service,” said Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Department Chief Keith Brower. “These programs greatly assist localities in the areas of firefighter safety, fire and life safety education and improved resourcing for tactical fire operations. The fire problem in America continues to demand a strong emphasis on fire prevention, adequate staffing and up to date equipment to do the job safely. This bill is tremendous for career and volunteer firefighters alike.”
“We appreciate today’s action by the U.S. House of Representatives to preserve the FIRE and SAFER grant programs, and the U.S. Fire Administration. These critical programs help local fire departments protect their jurisdictions from the many threats that we face every day,” said Chief Thomas Jenkins, President and Chairman of the Board of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.