NVFC-Backed SIREN Act Creating Rural EMS Grant Program Passes Congress, Goes to President

On December 12, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 369-47 to pass H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (commonly referred to as the “Farm Bill”). H.R. 2 includes language from the SIREN Act, a bill supported by the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) that creates a grant program within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for rural EMS agencies. The Senate passed H.R. 2 87-13 on December 11, and the bill now goes to President Trump to be signed into law.

The SIREN Act reauthorizes the Rural EMS Training and Equipment Assistance Program at $20 million per year through FY 2023. Eligible entities include local and tribal government EMS agencies, as well as nonprofit EMS agencies, that are located in and/or serve residents of rural areas. Funds can be used to train/educate personnel, obtain/maintain licenses and certifications, acquire EMS equipment (including PPE), recruit and retain personnel, or develop new methods for educating emergency health care providers through the use of technology. Individual awards will be capped at $200,000 and grantees will be required to put up a 10 percent local match.

“I would like to thank the authors of the SIREN Act for their leadership and support, as well as the House and Senate Agriculture Committees for including the SIREN Act in the final version of the Farm Bill,” said NVFC Chair Kevin D. Quinn. “Rural EMS agencies face significant challenges, including recruitment and retention and resource shortages. Passing the SIREN Act and thereby creating a new Rural EMS Training and Equipment Assistance Program at HHS will allow agencies to obtain critically-needed resources.”

The SIREN Act was introduced in the House by Representatives Greg Gianforte (R-MT), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), and Sean Duffy (R-WI) on April 5, 2018 and in the Senate by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) on May 10, 2018. On July 30, the NVFC sent a letter to Representatives Mike Conway (R-TX) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) asking them, as the respective Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, to include the SIREN Act in the Farm Bill.

Click here to read the SIREN Act bill text.