Fairfax, Va., May 31, 2011... On Wednesday, June 1, the House of Representatives is scheduled to consider H.R. 2017, the Fiscal Year 2012 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act. This bill would cut the FIRE grant program from $405 million to $200 million and the SAFER grant program from $405 million to $150 million. In addition, the bill would end the existing waivers to the SAFER grant program, and limit the number of cities eligible for the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) program to the top 10 cities based on risk.
Please call your Representative and ask him or her to vote for the following amendments:
Amendment to restore funding to the FIRE and SAFER grant programs. This amendment would restore funding for the FIRE and SAFER grant programs to $335 million for each program (Sponsored by Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ)).
- Emphasize that the American public views fire and emergency response as an “inherently governmental function” and that the FIRE and SAFER grant programs are the only federal programs that help fire departments prepare for all hazards, including those of national significance.
- Point out that the FIRE and SAFER grant programs use a highly-regarded merit-based, peer-review process to grant awards directly to fire departments.
- If you have received a FIRE or SAFER grant, explain how they have improved your emergency response capabilities.
- Also, let your Representative know if you plan on applying for a FIRE or SAFER grant, and how these grant programs can help you protect your jurisdiction.
Amendment to extend the existing SAFER waivers through FY 2012. For the FY 2011 SAFER grants, there is a waiver on the 10/20/50/70 percent local match requirement and a waiver on the requirement that SAFER funds cannot supplant existing state or local funds. For FY 2011, the SAFER funds also can be used to re-hire and retain firefighters. The amendment also would remove the $100,000 per firefighter cap on SAFER awards and the requirement to retain the SAFER firefighter for a fifth year at the local jurisdiction’s expense. (Sponsored by Representative David Price (D-NC)).
- Explain why it is important that fire departments be adequately staffed to ensure the health and safety of your fire department and the American public.
- If you have received a SAFER grant, explain how the SAFER-funded firefighters or the SAFER-funded volunteer recruitment/retention programs have improved your fire department’s operations.
Amendment to remove the limit on the number of cities eligible for the UASI grant program. (Sponsored by Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)).
Explain how there is still an active terrorist threat and that many of the United States’ urban areas are still at risk.
- If you have received funding as part of a UASI grant, explain how it has been used to improve regional and local cooperation in emergency response operations and enhanced your capability to respond to a terrorist attack or other disasters.
Lastly, make it clear that your Representative should oppose any amendment to eliminate the FIRE and SAFER grant programs.
- Explain that the local fire service is the nation’s front-line responder to all disasters, natural and man-made, and that these programs play an even more important role now that many local budgets are being cut.
You can locate contact information for your representative on the U.S. House of Representatives website by inputting your full 9-digit zip code at the top right-hand corner of the homepage. This tool will direct you to your Representative’s web page where you can find his or her phone number and/or submit comments in support of these amendments. Alternatively, you can call the House switchboard at 202-225-3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative’s office.