President Barack Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2012 budget proposal to Congress calls for funding the federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) equipment-purchasing program at $250 million, a cut of $140 million from its fiscal 2010 level of $390 million.
The current fiscal year 2011 AFG program is being funded by periodic continuing resolutions because Congress failed to pass full-year appropriations measures. The latest House Appropriations Committee bill would provide $300 million for AFG this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.
The president’s proposed fiscal 2012 budget would fund the federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program at $420 million, which is equal to its fiscal 2010 level.
Shortly before the president released his budget, a coalition of fire service and industry organizations sent a letter to Appropriations Committee leaders in the House and Senate, urging them to fund the AFG (also known as FIRE) and SAFER programs equally at $405 million each.
“The FIRE and SAFER grant programs are critical to addressing the needs of more than one million fire and emergency services personnel, while providing an economic stimulus to American businesses,” the letter said. “As the economic downtown continues, local fire departments – both career and volunteer – are forced to cut services and staffing, placing local communities at greater risks. In addition, departments are forced to postpone purchasing equipment, apparatus, and training and education programs that would otherwise bring their departments in compliance with national voluntary consensus standards.”