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IAFC president says fire and EMS ‘orphaned’ by Congress and Trump

Chief Gary Ludwig calls for action, saying federal aid for fire and EMS was largely overlooked in the CARES Act


The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act after it passed in the House on Capitol Hill. The $2.2 trillion package was then signed by President Donald Trump.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

By Janelle Foskett

CHANTILLY, Virginia — International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) President Chief Gary Ludwig said Tuesday that Congress and President Trump “orphaned” fire and EMS chiefs in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed into law last week, and called for additional funding for fire and EMS personnel in the next stimulus bill.

In a statement from the IAFC, Ludwig expressed that while he is pleased that Congress and the president took action to help those who are suffering economically by allocating federal money for hospitals, law enforcement, educational institutions, airlines and drug companies, he is “extremely disappointed that federal funding desperately needed by the American fire and emergency medical services was largely overlooked.”

Specifically, Ludwig detailed that law enforcement agencies received $850 million in the stimulus bill versus only $100 million for the fire service. The funding for law enforcement will go directly to state and local governments without a required funding match.

“I whole-heartedly support the federal funding that our brothers and sisters in blue are receiving from Congress,” Ludwig said. “They need it during this national emergency, but so do our firefighters and paramedics. The lack of funding in the CARES Act to protect our firefighters made it very clear that our U.S. Congress and the President of the United States orphaned our fire and EMS chiefs in their mission to protect their firefighters and EMS personnel who are on the frontlines in every community in the United States, providing life-saving treatment and emergency transportation to the hospital of the victims of this insidious virus.”

Ludwig continued: “There are hundreds of firefighters and EMS personnel nationwide who have contracted the virus, while thousands are being quarantined after being exposed. I receive multiple reports daily from fire departments that are exhausting their budgets to keep their firefighters and EMS personnel safe with masks, gowns, goggles, cleaning supplies, while draining their overtime budgets because so many are out sick or quarantined.”

Ludwig called on Congress and the president to fully fund the needs of fire and EMS personnel in the next stimulus bill to ensure that that funding provides immediate and direct funding to fire departments.