Senate Passes AFG/SAFER Reauthorization Legislation

On August 2, the United States Senate passed by unanimous consent S. 829, the AFG and SAFER Program Reauthorization Act of 2017. S. 829 extends the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program through 2023 and eliminates a provision in current law that would cause AFG and SAFER to be eliminated in January 2018.

AFG and SAFER are competitive grant programs that provide matching funds in the form of direct grants to fire departments and non-fire-based EMS agencies to help them reach a baseline level of preparedness. Through AFG, local departments receive funding to purchase training, equipment, and apparatus as well as pay for health and safety programs. SAFER grants can be used to pay for hiring career firefighters or for recruiting and retaining volunteer firefighters.

“I’d like to thank the U.S. Senate for their unanimous support for reauthorizing the AFG and SAFER grant programs,” said National Volunteer Fire Council Chair Kevin D. Quinn. “It is absolutely vital that S. 829 is enacted as quickly as possible to ensure that these important programs are not eliminated, and this action is a huge step.”

S. 829 was introduced on April 5 by Senator John McCain (R-AZ), along with original co-sponsors Thomas Carper (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Jon Tester (D-MT). It was approved unanimously by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in May. S. 829 now moves to the House, which has yet to introduce reauthorization legislation. The House Research and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on reauthorizing AFG and SAFER as well as the U.S. Fire Administration in July and is expected to take up reauthorization soon after returning from August recess.