Amount is $390 million increase in federal dollars for nation's firefighters;
Will aid local fire departments
WASHINGTON - Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8th), the first Member of Congress to author comprehensive legislation creating a federal grant program for local firefighters, announced that the Omnibus Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2003 that Congress is expected to pass today will include $750 million for the Assistance to Firefighters Program. The program was created by Pascrell's landmark Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement Act, or "FIRE Bill." The funding included in H J. Res. is an increase of $390 million over last year's total. Pascrell touted the increase as a major boost for local fire departments throughout America.
"The FIRE Act has already paid dividends to local fire departments all across this nation, and this significant increase will go a long way toward making sure our first responders are fully prepared to protect our citizens and themselves," Pascrell said. "It's not good enough to just pay lip service to helping first responders, or to do photo ops. Our firefighters, and the communities they protect, need resources and the full partnership of the federal government, and that is what the FIRE Bill was all about.
This funding increase is a huge step forward toward meeting our obligations to those who put their lives on the line every single day."
The Assistance to Firefighters Program was created by Pascrell's landmark Firefighter Investment Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act legislation, first enacted in October of 2000, and is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA recently completed year two of the Assistance to Firefighter program. During Fiscal Year 2002, the Agency dolled out $360 million in grants to local departments across the country. In Fiscal year 2001, grants totaling $100 million were awarded to over 1,800 fire departments.
The Pascrell measure was first signed into law on October 30, 2000 as part of the Fiscal Year 2001 Department of Defense Authorization Conference Report. Introduced in March of 1999, is the first comprehensive national legislation dedicated to meet the special needs of America's 32,000 volunteer, paid and part-paid fire departments.