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Senate passes amendment to reauthorize USFA and FIRE and SAFER grants

The amendment was offered by eight members of the Senate

FAIRFAX, Va. — Last evening, the Senate unanimously accepted an amendment to reauthorize the FIRE and SAFER grant programs and the U.S. Fire Administration through Fiscal Year 2017.

This amendment was offered by Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.) and Robert Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.) to S. 3254, the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

A full description of the FIRE and SAFER provisions can be found on the IAFC fact sheet, which summarizes this agreement.

"This is an important victory for America’s fire and emergency service," said Chief Hank Clemmensen, the IAFC’s President and Chairman of the Board.

"Fire service organizations and their allies in Congress worked many years to bring this legislation to fruition."

The amendment includes a number of major reforms, including ensuring a larger percentage of funding for fire prevention and safety, a large award size for larger jurisdiction, and establishing economic hardship waivers for communities that have responder requirements, but cannot meet the required local match.

This amendment is consistent with an agreement reached earlier this year by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

"We are very grateful to Senator Lieberman and the co-sponsors of this amendment for working diligently to bring reauthorization of these programs one step closer to reality," said Bill Webb.

As a condition of the amendment’s passage, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) insisted on a provision that would sunset the FIRE and SAFER grant programs in five years.

While it is not ideal, the provision is a typical concession in budget discussions and will be addressed over the years.

"I thank the IAFC members who supported this critical legislation and the senators who stepped forward to ensure this support for fire departments," continued Clemmensen. "I urge Congress to include this amendment in the final version of the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act and President Obama to sign it into law."

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