Current Legislation

118th Congress: Policy Issues and Legislation

Contacting Members of Congress

Developing a relationship with your elected representatives is critical to ensuring that they are aware of issues the fire and emergency services are facing. 

Click here to learn how to find and contact your member of Congress.

Appropriations

CFSI supports funding for programs and agencies that are vital to the fire and emergency services.

Background:

  • The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) and Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) programs are imperative to addressing the needs of more than one million fire and emergency services personnel, while providing an economic stimulus to American businesses. 
  • Every community relies on firefighters to respond to a variety of emergency situations, including structure fires, emergency medical services, hazardous materials response, technical rescues, and wildland/urban interface fires.  
  • Demand for fire and emergency services response has continued to grow. From 2010-2020, the number of fire department calls increased by 23% to more than 36.4 million calls.
  • Both the AFG and SAFER grant programs improve the response capabilities in each of these emergency response areas and provide funding for crucial fire prevention and safety programs targeted toward high-risk populations.
  • These two highly successful programs help ensure that our nation’s fire departments have the necessary training, equipment, and staffing to respond to tens of millions of emergency calls annually.
  • In addition, the need is greatThe most recent analysis from industry experts estimates that since 2019, the average cost for turnout gear has increased by around 35-40%, while the cost of fire apparatus has increased around 32%. Even today, costs are still continuing to increase.
  • The grant programs must turn down hundreds of millions of dollars in requests every year due to lack of funding.

Ask:

  • Fund AFG and SAFER at the authorized level of $750 million each in FY2023.

Background:

  • USFA is the lead federal agency for the fire and emergency services, providing support and leadership in the areas of training, education, research, and data collection.
  • Each year, USFA provides training to approximately 100,000 fire and emergency service personnel through the National Fire Academy (NFA).  
  • USFA also collects important data and conducts research to reduce the threat of fire and other dangers in local communities.  
  • Over the past decade, USFA’s budget has remained relatively stagnant and well below the authorized level of approximately $76.5 million per year through FY2023.

Ask:

  • Fund USFA at the authorized level of $76.5 million in FY2023.

Background:

  • Established in 1989, the US&R system is a framework to help organize federal, state, and local emergency response teams.
  • The system has 28 task forces that can be sent by FEMA ahead of a disaster, or deployed after disaster strikes.
  • As the nation’s only self-sufficient, all-hazards, ready-response force, the system is essential to our nation’s homeland security.
  • Unfortunately, recent appropriations have only covered a portion of the necessary costs, leaving local governments responsible for filling the gap and, thus, impairing local public safety.

Ask:

  • Fund the urban search and rescue system with at least $55 million in FY2023.

Background:

  • The National Firefighter Registry is an important resource to better understand the link between firefighting and cancer, potentially leading to better prevention and safety protocols.
  • Studies have indicated a strong link between firefighting and an increased risk of cancer.  
  • Studies have been limited by lack of availability of important data and relatively small sample sizes that have an underrepresentation of women, minorities, and volunteer firefighters.
  • During the 115th Congress, both the House and Senate unanimously approved the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act (P.L. 115-194).  

Ask:

  • Provide $5.5 million in FY2023 for the NFR to recruit and enroll firefighters, make data available safely and securely, develop cancer reduction materials, and more.

Background:

  • America’s forests and forest-dependent communities are at risk from outbreaks of pests and pathogens, persistent drought, and the buildup of hazardous fuels. 
  • Urbanization and development patterns are placing more homes and communities near fire-prone landscapes, leading to more destructive and costly wildland fires.
  • The State Fire Assistance (SFA) and Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) programs help decrease total federal costs for emergency wildland fire suppression by bolstering local readiness and improving local response in the event of a fire.
  • The programs also reduce the threat of fire to people, communities, and both public and private lands.

Ask:

  • Provide $79 million for the State Fire Assistance program and $21 million for the Volunteer Fire Assistance program in FY2023.

Background:

  • Fire departments and EMS agencies respond to more than 20 million calls for emergency service each year.
  • In most rural communities, these first responders are volunteers for agencies that are largely self-funded.
  • Also known as the Rural EMS Training and Equipment Assistance (REMSTEA) Program, the SIREN Grant program provides much-needed grants to underfunded fire and EMS agencies in rural areas.
  • The program assists EMS agencies in recruiting and training personnel, procuring equipment and medications, and expanding capacity for treating critically ill and injured patients in their communities
  • In FY2022, SIREN was funded at $7.5 million.
  • SAMHSA received applications far outpacing this level of funding.

Ask:

  • Provide $20 million for the SIREN grant program in FY2023.

COVID-19

CFSI strongly advocates for the support, supplies, and equipment that fire departments and EMS agencies need to respond safely and effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Background: Fire and EMS personnel come into direct contact with COVID-19-infected individuals in the course of their daily job requirements. This can be in the context of calls where COVID is known, as well as unrelated calls. 

Ask: Fire and EMS personnel must be considered in the highest-priority tier for vaccination.

Background: Fire and EMS personnel come into direct contact with COVID-19-infected individuals in the course of their daily job requirements. This can be in the context of calls where COVID is known, as well as unrelated calls.

Ask: Fire departments and EMS agencies must have access to much-needed PPE. 

Background: Limited access to testing can result in some fire service personnel working without knowing they have COVID-19, while delays in test results can lead to longer-than-necessary quarantines for personnel who do not have the virus.

Ask: Fire departments and EMS agencies must have prioritized access to testing for COVID-19—especially rapid testing.

Background

  • Due to the pandemic and the economic downturn, fire department funding is down.
  • Conversely, the pandemic has increased the need for fire and emergency services.
  • The pandemic has negatively affected recruitment and training of new firefighters, as well as retention of existing firefighters.
  • This compounds recruitment and retention issues that the fire and emergency services were already facing pre-pandemic.
  • The AFG and SAFER grant programs provide funding directly to departments in need, without burdensome intermediaries.

Fire and Life Safety

CFSI supports initiatives to improve the safety of civilians and firefighters alike, including supporting widespread use of devices that can prevent, detect, and/or suppress harmful threats such as fire and carbon monoxide. 

Health

CFSI supports initiatives to promote the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of fire and emergency services personnel. 

Tax and Retirement

CFSI supports tax and retirement proposals that are of assistance to the fire and emergency services.

Wildland Fire and the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI)

CFSI supports proposals that help to address the issue of wildland fire and bolster fire and emergency service response, training, staffing, health and safety, and more.

FAQs

Click here to learn how to find and contact your member of Congress.

See the video and flowchart below for a high-level overview of the process.

Click here to read an in-depth description of the process.

Process Overview

CRS: The Legislative Process

Click here to see the status of the 12 appropriations bills for the current fiscal year. 

In general, an authorization creates an agency, program, or activity, which may then be funded with appropriations. 

Click here to learn more about these two processes.

Budget reconciliation is a legislative tool by which the Senate can pass specific legislation with a simple majority. Typically, the Senate requires 60 votes to move bills.

Click here to see an FAQ from the House Budget Committee.

Click here to read a report from the Congressional Research Service.

Scorekeeping helps to determine the “costs”—namely changes in federal spending, revenues, and deficits—of proposed an enacted legislation.

Click here to read a report from the Congressional Budget Office.