News

Congressional Fire Services Caucus Conducts 5th Annual Flag Presentation with National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

(October 5, 2018) – On Thursday, October 4th, the leadership of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus presented 103 American flags to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.  The flags, which had been flown over the United States Capitol Building at the request of the Fire Caucus, will be presented to the survivors of the firefighters being honored at the 37th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service on Sunday, October 7th in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  

Senator Jon Tester (MT), a co-chair of the Fire Caucus, presided over the official transfer of the flags to Chief Dennis Compton, the chair of National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) Board of Directors.  Senator Tester was joined by the Senate Chaplain, Admiral Barry Black, as well as senior staff from the office of Senator Susan Collins (ME), the current chair of the Fire Caucus. Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute and Vice-Chair of the NFFF Board, served as the Master of Ceremonies.  

103 firefighters will be honored at the Memorial Service, 80 who died in the line-of-duty in 2017, and 23 from previous years.  17 of the firefighters being honored died as a result of 9/11-related illness.

Details about the 37th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service, including how to view, can be found on the NFFF website.  

Congress Approves FAA Reauthorization, Includes Disaster Reform Provisions

(October 5, 2018) – On Wednesday, October 3rd, the Senate approved H.R. 302, the FAA Reauthorization Act.  The bill, which authorizes the Federal Aviation Administration for five-years, includes a number of provisions to reform how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responds to, and prepares for, disasters.  

The legislation provides incentives for states and localities to adopt building codes to protect their communities and ensures that Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) funds can be used towards building code development and enforcement.  The bill also allows FEMA to provide Hazard Mitigation Assistance to areas affected by wildland fires.

H.R. 302 was approved by the House on September 26th.  The bill will now be sent to the White House for the President’s signature.  

Senate Passes Resolution Declaring September “Campus Fire Safety Month”

(October 5, 2018) – On September 28th, the Senate unanimously approved S. Res. 663, a resolution declaring September 2018 as “Campus Fire Safety Month.”  The resolution was sponsored by Senator Susan Collins (ME), the chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus.  

Res. 662 encourages institutions of higher education to provide educational programs about fire safety to all college students, evaluate the level of fire safety being provided in both on-campus and off-campus student housing, and ensure fire-safe living environments through education, installation of fire suppression and detection systems, and the enforcement of fire and building codes.

House Appropriations Committee Advances Fiscal Year 2019 Funding Bill

(July 25, 2018) – On Wednesday, July 25th, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations Act.  The funding bill provides $350 million each for the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs.  This is the same amount as the programs are funded at in the current fiscal year.

The bill also funds the United States Fire Administration (USFA) at $44,993,000, the same amount as requested in the White House’s FY19 budget proposal and $596,000 over the current fiscal year.  This amount also includes $1.5 million for infrastructure improvements at USFA’s Emmitsburg, Maryland campus.

Additionally, the bill increases funding for the Urban Search and Rescue System (US&R) to $45,330,000.  The program is currently funded at $35,180,000. The White House requested only $27,513,000 for US&R in the Administration’s FY19 budget proposal.  

On June 21st, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved S. 3109, the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security funding bill.  The House and Senate versions of the spending bill will now be considered by their respective chambers.  If approved, the appropriators will meet in conference to resolve any differences in the bills. The current fiscal year ends on September 31st.  CFSI will continue to provide updates throughout the appropriations process.

House Unanimously Approves Firefighter Cancer Registry Act

(June 22, 2018) – Earlier today, the House unanimously approved H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act.  The bipartisan legislation creates a specialized national registry to provide researchers and epidemiologists with the tools and resources needed to improve research collection activities related to the monitoring of cancer incidence among firefighters.

The House had previously passed the bill by voice vote on September 12, 2017.  However, on May 10th, the Senate amended the bill before approving it by unanimous consent.  

H.R. 931 was introduced by Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9).  Similar legislation, S. 382, was introduced in the Senate by Senator Robert Menendez (NJ) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK).

The bill will now be sent to the White House for President Trump’s signature.  

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland, Interior Spending Bills

(June 21, 2018) – On June 21st, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security spending bill.  The legislation appropriates $55.15 billion for programs and activities within the Department of Homeland Security.  The Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs are funded at $700 million, split evenly between the two programs.  This is the same amount Congress provided for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18).

The bill also provides $44 million for the United States Fire Administration (USFA), with an additional $1.5 million for infrastructure improvements at USFA’s Emmitsburg, MD campus. USFA received a total of $44.397 million in funding for FY18.  The Urban Search and Rescue System is funded at $35.180 million in the bill, the same level of funding as appropriated for the current fiscal year.  

The Senate committee also recommended funding the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) at $605 million (a reduction of $25 million from FY18) and $512 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program (an increase of $5 million over FY18).  Both programs would receive significantly more funding than requested in the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Proposal.  

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to take up its own version of the FY19 Homeland Security spending bill in the coming weeks.  

Additionally, on June 14th, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved S. 3073, the Fiscal Year 2019 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.  The bill provides $35.853 billion to fund the Department of the Interior, U.S. Forest Service, and other agencies.  The bill provides $16 million for the Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) program and $80 million for the State Fire Assistance program.  This is the same amount Congress appropriated for the current fiscal year. On June 6th, the House Appropriations Committee approved its own version of the bill, which includes the same funding levels.  

CFSI will continue to provide updates as the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations process moves forward, including a more comprehensive breakdown of the funding bills.    

(Updated on June 22, 2018; 10:30 a.m.)