News

Congress Approves Fiscal Year 2019 Spending Bill

On Thursday, February 14th, the Senate and House both approved H.J. Res. 31, the Consolidated Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations Act.  The $333 billion spending package, which combines seven Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations bills, includes funding for several programs of significance to the nation’s fire and emergency services.  

The Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) 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 level of funding Congress appropriated in Fiscal Year 2018. Additionally, the United States Fire Administration (USFA) is funded at $44.179 million, with an additional $1.5 million for infrastructure improvements at the National Fire Academy.  This is a sizable increase from the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) funding level of $42.9 million.

Several other programs received increased funding under the measure as well.  The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) is funded at $640 million, an increase of $10 million over FY18 funding.  The bill also provides $525 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program, an increase of $18 million. The Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) program is funded at $17 million and the State Fire Assistance program is funded at $81 million, increases of $1 million each.  The Urban Area Search and Rescue System is funded at $45.18 million, an increase of $10.15 million.

The spending bill will now be sent to the President.

Congressman Mike Bost Selected to Co-Chair the Congressional Fire Services Caucus

The leadership of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus has selected Congressman Mike Bost (IL-12) to serve as a co-chair.  Congressman Bost assumes the position following the retirement of former-Congressman David Reichert at the end of the 115th Congress.  

Currently serving his third term in the House, Congressman Bost previously served for two decades in the Illinois House of Representatives.  The Congressman also served as a firefighter for the Murphysboro (IL) Fire Department. He graduated from the University of Illinois’ Certified Firefighter II Academy in 1993 and continued to serve the Murphysboro Fire Department during his six terms as state representative.  The Congressman also served in the United States Marine Corps from 1979 to 1982.

“As a former firefighter, I know firsthand the dedication our first responders show to the communities they serve,” said Congressman Bost. “I’m honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with my firefighter brothers and sisters who put their lives on the line for their communities. I’m humbled by this opportunity to be a leading voice for them in Congress through the Fire Services Caucus.”

“We welcome Congressman Bost to the leadership of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus and thank him for his willingness to serve,“ said Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute.  “As a firefighter, the Congressman will bring an important perspective to the Fire Caucus. I applaud the decision of the Fire Caucus leadership in selecting the Congressman to join their ranks. I have no doubt he will continue the tradition of strong, bipartisan leadership that has made the Fire Caucus so successful.”

The Congressional Fire Services Caucus leadership is composed of eight members – four each from the Senate and House.  Maintaining the bipartisan spirit of the Caucus, leadership is split evenly between party lines with four Democrats and four Republicans.  The other co-chairs include Congressman Steny Hoyer (MD-5), Congressman Peter King (NY-3), Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9), Senator Tom Carper (DE), Senator Susan Collins (ME), Senator Jon Tester (MT), Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK).

The Fire Caucus is among the largest caucuses in Congress.  Members join to learn more about our nation’s fire and emergency services and the federal government’s role in addressing the needs of our nation’s fire and emergency services.  A list of current members is located on CFSI’s website.  If your member is not on the list, please have them contact CFSI and learn the value in becoming a member.

Senator Tom Carper to Chair Congressional Fire Services Caucus

The Congressional Fire Services Institute is pleased to announce that Senator Tom Carper of Delaware will serve as the chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus for the 116th Congress. First elected to the Senate in 2001 after having previously served five terms in the House of Representatives and two terms as Governor, Senator Carper has been a tireless advocate for the nation’s fire and emergency services. Throughout his career in public service, he has advanced many initiatives to address the needs of the fire service.

“Senator Carper has been a strong advocate for firefighters in his home state of Delaware and across the entire nation. His leadership and commitment to public safety have made a difference on so many issues, enabling legislation to move through the Senate that has had a direct benefit on our nation’s fire and emergency services,” said Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute. “CFSI looks forward to working with him on recruiting new members to the Fire Caucus and educating his colleagues on the needs of the fire service and the federal programs that benefit our nation’s first responders.”

Formed in 1987, the Congressional Fire Services Caucus was established to educate members of Congress about the fire and emergency services. The Fire Caucus was created to be a bipartisan group where Republicans and Democrats could work together to improve the readiness of local first responders and to jointly recognize their valor and dedication. Today, the Fire Caucus is among the largest and most respected caucuses in Congress. A current list of Fire Caucus members can be found on CFSI’s website.

Portable Fuel Container Safety Act Introduced in House

On January 28th, Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-5) and Congressman David Joyce (OH-14) introduced H.R. 806, the Portable Fuel Container Safety Act.  The legislation directs the Consumer Product Safety Commission to adopt a standard requiring the addition of flame mitigation devices to consumer-grade portable fuel containers.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates fire departments respond to an average of 160,910 fires per year involving ignition of a flammable or combustible liquid.  These fires result in approximately 454 civilian deaths, nearly 4,000 civilian injuries, and an estimated $1.5 billion in direct property damage annually. Requiring flame mitigation devices to be added to consumer-grade portable fuel containers will help prevent “flame jetting” or “flashback” to the fuels and vapors within the container and will help prevent burn injuries and fatalities.

The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The Congressional Fire Services Caucus – Recruit Your Members of Congress Today!

One of the fire services’ best assets on Capitol Hill is the Congressional Fire Services Caucus.  First formed in 1987, the Fire Caucus was established to educate members of Congress about the fire and emergency services. A bipartisan group, the Fire Caucus works together to improve the readiness of local first responders and to jointly recognize their valor and dedication.

Today, the Fire Caucus is among the largest in Congress. It is not about ideology, but rather recognizing and supporting our nation’s first responders. It unites members of Congress to raise the level of awareness on Capitol Hill about the critical mission first responders perform to protect local communities. The Fire Caucus helps members understand how certain pieces of legislation can advance the readiness and response capabilities of our nation’s first responders to all hazards.

Ten years ago, 284 members of Congress served in the Congressional Fire Services Caucus; at the start of the 116th Congress, the number has decreased to 204.  We need to reverse the trend. The 116th Congress introduced approximately 100 new members in the House and Senate. Many of them have not been exposed to the federal programs that benefit the nation’s fire and emergency services.  By becoming members of the Fire Caucus, members of Congress can enhance their knowledge of the fire services and the federal programs and legislation that benefit our first responders.

It is imperative that every member of the nation’s fire service reach out to their members of Congress and urge them to not only join the Fire Caucus, but to become active members.  There are several critical issues Congress will be considering in 2019 that benefit public safety. You can help us advance these issues by becoming engaged with your members of Congress and educating them about these issues.

Please visit our website to see if your members of Congress are currently serving on the Congressional Fire Services Caucus.  It also includes resources you can use to recruit your members.  

Citizen engagement is a bedrock principle of our republic.  It is essential that the fire service engage their members of Congress at the grassroots level.  Every member of Congress has a firehouse in their district. Every member of Congress has firefighters who vote in their district.  If the fire service is willing to make itself heard, it can continue to be a powerful force on Capitol Hill in the years to come.

CFSI Accepting Applications for the Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Award: CFSI and Masimo Seeking to Recognize Innovations in Emergency Medical Services

The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) is accepting applications for the CFSI/Masimo Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Awards. The presentation of the 2019 awards will take place on April 25, 2019, at the 31st Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner in Washington, DC.

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Tribute to George H.W. Bush By Bill Webb, CFSI Executive Director

Yesterday, leaders of this great nation of ours and from around the world gathered together in the National Cathedral to pay their final respects to the 41st President of the United States: George Herbert Walker Bush. As I was watching the service on television, I was absorbing every word expressed by the four speakers who shared their personal thoughts on the greatness of our 41st President. I thought to myself that every young, aspiring leader should be watching the service.

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CFSI and NFFF Accepting Nominations for the Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award: Award Recognizes Organizations for Advancing Firefighter Health and Safety

Starting today, the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) and National Fallen Firefighters Foundation will be accepting nominations for the CFSI/NFFF Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award. The deadline for submissions is December 6, 2018.

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