Skip to content


Schumer-Created Programs— AFG & SAFER—Are Critical Funding Streams That Have Provided Nearly $1 Million To Warren & Washington County Fire Departments In Just The Past Three Years To Staff And Equip Firefighters – But Without Fed Action This Funding Will Run Out In 2023

As Majority Leader, Schumer Has Shepherded Legislation To Save These Programs To The Senate Floor And Will Work To Pass This Bill This Month And Show Who Stands With Firefighters 

Schumer: It’s Time To Put On Our Boots, Throw Some Cold Water On These Cuts, & Rescue NY Fire Department Funding

Standing at the Glens Falls Fire Department, with the main federal firefighter funding programs – the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Program – at risk of being totally eliminated this year, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today revealed his plan to rally support to pass the Fire Grants and Safety Act of 2023 in the Senate by the end of this month to save these programs.

“From smaller communities like those here in Warren and Washington Counties, to our major cities like Albany and Schenectady, the AFG and SAFER programs are lifelines that have delivered over $16.5 million in federal funding to our Capital Region firefighters in just the past three years; we can’t let these programs go up in smoke. These are desperately needed federal dollars for new fire trucks, better equipment, and to hire more firefighters in the Upstate communities that need them most,” said Senator Schumer. “As majority leader, I am officially announcing that I have put Fire Grants and Safety Act on the Senate floor, and shepherded it through the initial hurdles, priming the Senate to pass this life-saving legislation when we return in two weeks. I am calling on my colleagues to join me in passing a clean bill this month, our firefighters have waited long enough. I’ve fought my whole career to bring more support to our brave firefighters, every day they save lives and I promise that I will not stop holding congressional feet to the fire until we pass this bill and save this federal lifeline for our New York fire departments and first responders.”

"I want to thank Leader Schumer for once again having our backs and being a champion for firefighters and the fire service.  These federal grant programs have delivered millions of dollars to departments and municipalities to get us the equipment and staffing levels that we need to respond to fires and countless other emergency calls as safely and efficiently as possible. We appreciate Leader Schumer bringing this bill to the floor of the Senate so that these lifesaving grant programs might continue to help our firefighters and our citizens,” said Sam Fresina, President, NYS Professional Firefighters Association.

Schumer originally helped create the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program in 1999, which later expanded to also include the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Program, and the Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) programs. Schumer explained that these federal programs have been a lifeline for firefighters and have become essential to their continued operations, especially in smaller and more rural counties. Fire departments, like those in Upstate New York, often face budget shortfalls and extremely high costs that mean they cannot purchase the modern equipment they need to combat emergencies while keeping firefighters safe. For example, a modern pumper truck can cost well over $750,000, while ladder trucks routinely cost over $1 million.  And it costs roughly $12,000 to outfit a firefighter in protective gear and breathing apparatus.  Due to the extreme nature of the job, equipment can often become damaged and need to be replaced at enormous cost, especially for smaller communities like those in Warren and Washington County.

Schumer warned that, “Over the last 20 years, these programs have delivered nearly $700 million in federal funding to NY firefighters and first responders, but if new legislation doesn’t pass, fire departments will not be able to access this funding next year.”

Schumer said that barring action through legislation, these programs are only authorized for funding through Fiscal Year 2023, meaning FEMA would is unable to accept any additional funding requests for next year. The programs sunset next year, meaning all the of technical assistance that FEMA provides for ongoing grants would also cease next year.   Since the start of these programs in 2002, the grants have delivered nearly $700 million in federal funding to NY firefighters. Schumer said that losing this funding would be felt especially hard for Capital Region firefighters, who have received over $16.5 million in federal funding through these programs in just the past three years.

Screenshot 2023-04-11 173424

Schumer said if the programs were to cease that would mean lifesaving equipment and the hundreds of NY firefighters that have been hired thanks to this funding would never have happened.  Schumer said if the programs were to cease that would mean lifesaving equipment and the hundreds of NY firefighters that have been hired, or recruited in the case of volunteer departments, thanks to this funding might never have happened.  The Glens Falls Fire Department received an AFG grant of $17,077 in 2017 to purchase equipment for the annual fit-testing of their self-contained breathing apparatus, and just a year ago the South Glens Falls Fire Department received an AFG grant of $34,746 for procuring new equipment.  Additionally, last summer, the Saratoga Springs Fire Department, received one of the largest SAFER grants in New York State history--  $4,154,523 to hire and train 16 new firefighters, and was awarded an AFG grant of $240,140 just the month prior to purchase new breathing apparatus. And, just last week, the Salem Fire Department was notified that they will receive a $40,000 SAFER grant for the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters.

You can find a comprehensive list of New York’s AFG awards here and SAFER awards here.

Specifically, the Fire Grants and Safety Act would reauthorize the U.S. Fire Administration, the Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program, and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant Program through Fiscal Year (FY) 2030. The bill also extends the sunset for both SAFER and AFG from 2024 to 2032. The bill would increase the authorization for the U.S. Fire Administration by about $20 million, while maintain the authorized funding level for SAFER and AFG at $750 million, each.

The AFG and SAFER grant programs are both administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide competitive funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to purchase essential equipment and help them increase the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities.