U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Tina Smith, Minnesota Fire Chiefs Celebrate Passage of the Fire Grants and Safety Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) issued the statements below after the Senate passed the Fire Grants and Safety Act, bipartisan legislation to continue providing federal funding for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant programs. This bill now goes to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant program helps firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources. The SAFER Grants program provides direct funding to fire departments and volunteer firefighter organizations to increase or maintain the number of trained “front line” firefighters and enhance their capacity to comply with staffing, response, and operational standards.   Since 2015, fire departments across Minnesota have received over $33 million in SAFER grants and $59 million in AFG grants.

“Firefighters put their lives on the line every day to save lives. We need to invest in our local fire departments and ensure that they have the funding they need to hire and train firefighters and purchase life-saving equipment,” said Senator Klobuchar. “That’s why I worked to pass the bipartisan Fire Grants and Safety Act which will support fire departments in Minnesota and across the country.”

“Firefighters do one of the most difficult jobs possible, often at the risk of immense personal injury, to keep our families and loved ones safe. This funding is our way of giving them the support they need to do their jobs as safely and effectively as possible,” said Senator Smith. “This bill means better equipment to protect firefighters on the job, increased funding for departments to hire additional firefighters, and ensures departments get the staff and resources they need to be ready to go in the case of an emergency. I am proud to support this legislation.”

“The AFG FIRE and SAFER grant programs are vital for providing federal assistance to Fire Departments across the State of Minnesota as they struggle to provide funding for modern, safe, equipment and adequate levels of staffing to keep their communities safe,” said Eric Bullen, President of the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association.

“These programs are vital to us. Fire Grants and Safety Act programs give our cities and fire departments the funding we need to provide firefighters with equipment and staffing to keep people safe. It’s crucial to us that it is in effect and fully funded,” said Thomas Thornberg, 5th District Vice President of the International Association of Fire Fighters. 

“Small volunteer and paid on-call fire departments rely heavily on AFG dollars to replace critical equipment and apparatus. These items are crucial to firefighter safety,” said Ely Fire Chief Dave Marshall. “Without a doubt, AFG funding allows community fire departments to fulfill their commitment in saving lives and property.

“The AFG Program is paramount to the future of the fire service. As costs for fire departments are constantly increasing, we definitely need this type of assistance,”said Virginia Fire Chief Scott Fredrickson.

“This is a great program that really helps out fire departments, especially those in the rural parts of Minnesota,” said Steve Shykes, Fire Chief for Fayal Township.

“The Assistance to Firefighters Grant has been a critical component in helping fire departments purchase apparatus, protective gear & life- saving equipment, to ensure we can continue to meet the emergency response needs of our communities,” said Jesse Buhs, Fire Chief for the Cloquet Area Fire District. “The continuation of this program will be very impactful to the long-term sustainability of fire departments across the US.”