President Signs Reauthorization of AFG/SAFER/USFA Into Law

On January 3, 2018, President Trump signed H.R. 4661 the United States Fire Administration, AFG, and SAFER Program Reauthorization Act of 2017. H.R. 4661 was introduced on December 15 by Representative Barbara Comstock (R-VA) and was taken up and passed by the full House by a voice vote on December 18. It subsequently was agreed to by unanimous consent in the Senate on December 21.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs provide critically-needed funding to help fire and emergency service departments meet their resource needs. 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. The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) testified before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee in July, calling on Congress to reauthorize AFG, SAFER, and USFA.

“I’d like to thank the President, leadership in the House and Senate, as well as the individual members of Congress on the committees of jurisdiction and in the Fire Caucus who worked so hard on the reauthorization,” said NVFC Chair Kevin D. Quinn. “Unanimous passage in the House and the Senate demonstrates the overwhelming support that these critical grant programs have in Congress. That level of support would not exist were it not for the huge number of fire service advocates who weighed in on the reauthorization. I’d like to especially thank the thousands of NVFC members who used our Legislative Action Center, called, emailed, and/or met with your elected representatives in Congress to let them know how important these grant programs are!”

H.R. 4661 extends AFG (including the Fire Prevention and Safety grant program) and SAFER through FY 2023, maintains the current authorization levels of $750 million for each program, and makes several minor technical changes. It also moves the date of a “sunset” provision in current law stipulating that the grant programs will be eliminated from January 2, 2018, to the end of FY 2024. The authorization for USFA is also extended through FY 2023.