FIRE Bill Will Provide Federal Funds to Augment Local Fire Departments

US Senator Charles E. Schumer announced today that he has cosponsored the Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act. The FIRE Act, sponsored by Sen. Christopher Dodd (CT), would allow municipal fire departments to apply for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help offset the rising cost of equipment, apparatus, facilities, training and staffing. The legislation would make $5 billion available over the next five years for local volunteer and career fire departments.

"Over the past twenty years, technology and advanced training have revolutionized the fire service, but these improvements have come at significant cost to local governments," said Schumer.

New firefighting apparatus can cost upwards of half a million dollars, and important new technologies such as thermal imaging cameras, which allow firefighters to see through smoke filled rooms, are unavailable to municipalities that cannot afford their $20,000 price tag. Firefighting costs are particularly high in New York State, one of roughly 25 states to adopt the federal OSHA standards to govern firefighting and training.

"There is no existing means of allocating federal dollars to local governments to help pay the cost of firefighting services," said Schumer. "This legislation is about the safety of firefighters and the public they work to protect and I plan to work for its passage."

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