Tag: Fire Service Caucus

Senator Lisa Murkowski Selected as Co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus

The leadership of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus has selected Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) to serve as a co-chair.  Senator Murkowski assumes the position following the recent passing of Senator John McCain (AZ), a founding co-chair of the Fire Caucus.  

Since joining the Senate in 2002, Senator Murkowski has been a tireless advocate for the nation’s fire and emergency services.  Throughout her career, she has supported the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs.  She fought for the reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, and was the lead co-sponsor of the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act.    

“From my earliest days in the Senate I have built strong relationships with Alaska Fire Chiefs and firefighters – professional, volunteer and wildland. On a national level, I have led on many issues of importance to the fire service. I am proud to accept the invitation to Co-Chair the congressional Fire Services Caucus- a vacancy that was left open after my good friend, Senator John McCain, recently passed. Senator McCain set a high bar, but I am committed to building upon his good work to create a safer future for our firefighters and the communities they risk their lives to protect.”

“Without fail, Senator Murkowski has stood with the nation’s fire service on so many of our issues,“ said Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute.  “Her level of dedication and commitment to America’s firefighters makes her the logical choice to succeed the late-Senator John McCain as a Fire Caucus Co-Chair. I applaud the decision of the leadership of the Fire Caucus in selecting the Senator to join their ranks.  I have no doubt she 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 Senator Susan Collins (ME), Senator Tom Carper (DE), Senator Jon Tester (MT), Congressman Peter King (NY-3), Congressman Steny Hoyer (MD-5), Congressman David Reichert (WA-8), and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9).

The Fire Caucus is among the largest caucuses in Congress with nearly 240 members.  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.  

 

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.  

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 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 Approves Firefighter Cancer Registry Act

(May 11, 2018) – On Thursday, May 10th, the Senate approved by unanimous consent H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act.  The bill, which was amended by the Senate prior to passage, was unanimously approved by the House on September 12, 2017.

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.

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 amended bill will now go back to the House for final passage.  

 

Congress Reauthorizes Firefighter Grant Programs, U.S. Fire Administration

(December 21, 2017) – On December 21st, the Senate approved by unanimous consent H.R. 4661, the United States Fire Administration, AFG, and SAFER Program Reauthorization Act. The House approved H.R. 4661 by unanimous voice vote on Monday, December 18th.

The bill reauthorizes the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG), Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER), and the Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) grant programs, as well as the U.S. Fire Administration through September 30, 2023. It contains many of the key recommendations the fire organizations presented to Congress earlier in the year that were incorporated into S.829, the Senate bill to reauthorize the two grant programs that was sponsored by Senators John McCain (AZ) and Jon Tester (MT). The bill also contains a “sunset” provision that would eliminate the grant programs, but the sunset would not take effect until September 30, 2024 unless Congress renews the programs before the deadline date.

“For more than a year, the national fire services organizations have worked together to preserve the Assistance to Firefighters, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, and the Fire Prevention and Safety grant programs. The collective efforts of so many individuals and fire organizations made this outcome possible. CFSI takes great pride in playing an integral role in this process,” said Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute.

H.R. 4661 will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.

Senator John McCain Named 2017 CFSI Legislator of The Year Award

(December 21, 2017) – The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) has named Senator John McCain (AZ) the 2017 Legislator of the Year.  An original co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, Senator McCain has been a long-time advocate for the national fire and emergency services on Capitol Hill.

“For 30 years, Senator McCain has stood by the side of the American fire service, offering his leadership and support on a variety of issues,” said Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute.  “We are grateful for all he has done for our nation’s first responders and it is an honor to recognize him during the 30th anniversary of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus.”   

Fire Sprinkler Provisions, LOSAP Reforms Included in Tax Overhaul Bill

(December 21, 2017) – On December 20th, the House and Senate approved the conference report to H.R. 1, the tax reform bill.  While the tax bill could have far reaching implications on individuals, businesses, and local governments, there are some provisions in the bills that have a specific impact on the nation’s fire and emergency services.

The bill classifies “fire protection systems” as an eligible property under Section 179 of the tax code.  This provision allows small and medium-sized businesses to fully expense certain types of equipment purchases like machines, equipment, vehicles, and computers.  With the expansion of Section 179 to now include fire protection systems, small and medium-sized businesses will be able to fully expense, up to $1 million, the retrofit of a property with automatic fire sprinklers.  

The cost of fire in America is enormous. In 2015, fire claimed the lives of 3,280 civilians and led to 15,700 civilian injuries. The direct property damage caused by fire was an estimated $14.3 billion.  One of the most effective ways to minimize the loss of life and property to fire is with automatic sprinklers. Current building codes require sprinklers in many of the most vulnerable occupancies, such as student housing, commercial and residential high-rise, and entertainment complexes. Unfortunately, there are still thousands of structures that were built and put in service before sprinklers were required. In many jurisdictions, these structures are grandfathered from current standards despite the dangers of these occupancies.  Providing an economic incentive to property owners to do the right thing and retrofit properties with automatic fire sprinklers has the potential to have a significant impact on addressing the nation’s fire problem.  

H.R. 1 also increases the cap on allowable annual contributions into a Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) from $3,000 to $6,000 and establishes a mechanism for the cap to be raised over time with inflation.  The current cap was established in 1996 and has not been adjusted since. A LOSAP is a retirement account for volunteer emergency responders in which approximately 20 percent of the 814,850 volunteer firefighters in the United States are enrolled.  Many communities provide modest financial incentives to their volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel to boost recruitment and retention and LOSAP is one of the most popular benefits.  

H.R. 1 will now be sent to the White House to be signed into law by the President.  

Congressional Staff Participate in Ride Along Program

(November 21, 2017) – Throughout the year, CFSI arranges for congressional staff to spend an evening riding with DC Fire and EMS to actual emergencies.  Another successful program took place on November 17th as participants rode on apparatus to fires, emergency medical calls and other incidents.  CFSI extends a special thanks to DC Chief Gregory Dean and his personnel for providing this educational opportunity for the participants.  

This programs is an example of how CFSI continues to perform its mission of educating members of Congress about the challenges and needs of our nation’s fire and emergency services.

Senate Passes Firefighter Grants Reauthorization

(August 3, 2017) – On August 2nd, the Senate approved S. 829, the AFG and SAFER Reauthorization Act, by unanimous consent.  The legislation, which was unanimously approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on May 17th, reauthorizes the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG), the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER), and Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) grant programs through Fiscal Year 2023.  Additionally, the legislation removes a “sunset” provision in the current authorizing statute that would eliminate the programs on January 2, 2018.

S. 829 was introduced by Senator John McCain (AZ) and Senator Jon Tester (MT), both co-chairs of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus.  Senator Susan Collins (ME), chair of the Fire Caucus, and Senator Tom Carper, a fellow Fire Caucus co-chair, are original co-sponsors of the legislation.

“We are very grateful to the Senate for taking action to reauthorize these critical, life saving programs that have had such an immense impact in communities across the entire nation,” said Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute.  “The passage of S. 829 is the result of a cooperative and unified effort by the national fire service organizations, as well as persistent grassroots engagement by fire service leaders throughout the country.  We strongly urge the House to approve the Senate bill as soon as they return from the August Congressional recess.”  

On July 12th, the House Science, Technology and Space Committee’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology conducted a hearing on reauthorizing the AFG, SAFER and FP&S grant programs.  Unfortunately, the House adjourned for a five-week district work period before the subcommittee could take action on any legislation.  The House is scheduled to return on September 5th.