NFPA Remarks Regarding Reauthorization of AFG, SAFER, and the U.S. Fire Administration

Seth Statler, Director of Government Affairs, National Fire Protection Association

The National Fire Protection Association is a self-funded global non-profit devoted to eliminating death, injury, and loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. At our core, we manage the development of more than 300 consensus codes and standards that influence every aspect of fire, life and electrical safety.

NFPA is proud to work together with so many who champion fire safety. The United States Fire Administration is a vital one. Their advocacy and hands-on leadership training for firefighters from across this country make a huge difference. Congress needs to reauthorize and fully fund this small but critical agency.

At the same time, data from NFPA demonstrates how underprepared our nation’s firefighters are – and how important the federal grant programs are. Our most recent Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service, found that significant needs exist for departments of all sizes and in every area, including staffing, training and certification, facilities, apparatus, personal protective equipment or PPE; and health and wellness. In general, the smaller the community protected, the greater the need. 

For example, the Needs Assessment found that nearly two-thirds of departments have firefighters wearing personal protective clothing that is 10 years old or older. More than half of all fire departments cannot equip all of their on-duty emergency responders with self-contained breathing apparatus. Serious shortfalls were also identified with portable radios, with cleaning equipment for PPE and even with wildland fire PPE despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of U.S. departments reported that they have some responsibility for wildland fires. Unfortunately, the list goes on and confirms the urgent need for continuing the Assistance for Firefighters Grants or AFG program.

NFPA data also shows the pressing need for recruiting, retention and firefighter health and safety programs that are key components of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program or SAFER.

NFPA joins with our sister organizations in calling on Congress to complete work on the reauthorization of the Fire Administration, AFG and SAFER as soon as possible. 

Every 23 seconds a fire department in the United States responds to a fire somewhere in the nation. And a home fire occurs every 93 seconds. The number of calls is rising at the same time that recruitment faces serious challenges. This bipartisan legislation is an important step towards ensuring that our volunteer and career firefighters have the equipment and other resources to protect their fellow citizens.