Order Code RL32341 CRS Report for Congress Received through the CRS Web Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Updated January 10, 2005 Lennard G. Kruger Specialist in Science and Technology Resources, Science, and Industry Division Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Summary The Assistance to Firefighters Program, also known as the FIRE Act grant program, was established by Title XVII of the FY2001 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106-398). Currently administered by the Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the program provides federal grants directly to local fire departments to help address a variety of equipment, training, and other firefighter-related needs. The fire grant program is now entering its fifth year. Over $2.6 billion has been appropriated to the fire grant program since FY2001. The Fire Act statute was reauthorized in 2004 and provides overall guidelines on how fire grant money should be distributed. There is no set geographical formula for the distribution of fire grants – fire departments throughout the nation apply, and award decisions are made by a peer panel based on the merits of the application and the needs of the community. However, the law does require that fire grants should be distributed to a diverse mix of fire departments, with respect to type of department (paid, volunteer, or combination), geographic location, and type of community served (e.g. urban, suburban, or rural). An ongoing issue likely to receive attention during the 109th Congress is the focus of the fire grant program. Activities in the 108th Congress included reauthorization of the Fire Act and enactment of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Act. On October 28, 2004 the President signed the FY2005 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-375). Title XXXVI of P.L. 108-375 is the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2004, which reauthorizes the fire grant program through FY2009. The SAFER Act (P.L. 108-136) authorizes federal grants of over $1 billion per year through 2010 directly to fire departments for the hiring of personnel. No money was appropriated for SAFER grants in FY2004, and the Bush Administration requested no funding for SAFER grants in FY2005. However, the FY2005 Homeland Security Appropriations bill (P.L. 108-334) provides SAFER Act grants with $65 million for FY2005. This report will be updated as events warrant. Contents Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 FY2001 Grants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 FY2002 Grants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 FY2003 Grants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 FY2004 Grants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Program Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Distribution of Fire Grants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Activities in the 108th Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Fire Act Reauthorization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 SAFER Act . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 List of Tables Table 1. Appropriations for Assistance to Firefighters Program, FY2001 - FY2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Table 2. FY2001 Fire Grant Award Recipients, By Category . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Table 3. FY2002 Awards Recipient, By Category . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Table 4. FY2003 Award Recipients, By Category . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Table 5. Major Provisions of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Reauthorization Act . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Table 6. State-by-State Distribution of Fire Grants, FY2001-FY2003 . . . . . . . . 12 Table 7. Requests and Awards for Fire Grant Funding, FY2003 . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Background The Assistance to Firefighters Program,1 also known as the FIRE Act grant program, was established by Title XVII of the FY2001 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106-398).2 Currently administered by the Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS),3 the program provides federal grants directly to local fire departments to help address a variety of equipment, training, and other firefighter-related needs. On October 28, 2004, the President signed the FY2005 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-375). Title XXXVI of P.L. 108-375 is the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2004, which reauthorizes the fire grant program through FY2009. The FIRE Act statute prescribes 14 different purposes for which fire grant money may be used (see 15 USC 2229(b)(3)). These are: hiring firefighters; training firefighters; creating rapid intervention teams; certifying fire inspectors; establishing wellness and fitness programs; funding emergency medical services provided by fire departments; acquiring firefighting vehicles; acquiring firefighting equipment; acquiring personal protective equipment; modifying fire stations; enforcing fire codes; funding fire prevention programs; educating the public about arson prevention and detection; and providing incentives for the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. The DHS has the discretion to decide which of those purposes will be funded for a given grant year. Since the program commenced in FY2001, the majority of fire grant funding has been used by fire departments to purchase firefighting equipment, personal protective equipment, and firefighting vehicles. At present, the program does not award funding for major building construction or for hiring of personnel. 1 See CRS Report RS21302, Assistance to Firefighters Program, by Lennard G. Kruger. 2 “Firefighter assistance” is codified as section 33 of the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act (15 USC 2229). 3 Previous to FY2004, the fire grant program was administered by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), a component of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate of DHS. Although the fire grant program is currently located in ODP, USFA continues to participate in the grant administration process. On January 26, 2004, DHS Secretary Ridge informed Congress of his intention to consolidate ODP, including the Assistance to Firefighters Program, into the Office of State and Local Government Coordination Preparedness (SLGCP). CRS-2 Eligible applicants are limited primarily to fire departments (defined as an agency or organization that has a formally recognized arrangement with a state, local, or tribal authority to provide fire suppression, fire prevention and rescue services to a population within a fixed geographical area). Emergency Medical Services (EMS) activities are eligible for fire grants, including a limited number (no more than 2% of funds allocated) to EMS organizations not affiliated with fire departments. Additionally, a separate competition is held for fire prevention and firefighter safety research and development grants, which are available to national, state, local, or community fire prevention or safety organizations (including, but not limited to, fire departments).4 For official program guidelines, frequently-asked-questions, the latest awards announcements, and other information, see the Assistance to Firefighters grant program web page at [http://www.firegrantsupport.com/]. The fire grant program is entering its fifth year. Table 1 shows the fire grant’s appropriations history. Over $2.6 billion has been appropriated to the fire grant program since FY2001, its first year. For FY2005, the Administration requested $500 million for the fire grant program. The House passed the FY2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act (H.R. 4567) on June 18, 2004. H.R. 4567 provides $600 million for firefighter grants in FY2005, and funds the program within the Office for State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness (OSLGCP). In its bill report (H.Rept. 108-541), the House Appropriations Committee expressed concern over language in the Administration proposal that would shift the grant to terrorism, and the proposed deletion of several eligible activities for fire grants, specifically, wellness and fitness programs, emergency medical services, fire prevention programs, public education programs, and modifications of facilities for health and safety of personnel. The Committee also emphasized that fire grants must continue to be administered in a manner identical to FY2003, including a peer review process of applications, granting funds directly to local fire departments, and the inclusion of the United States Fire Administration during grant administration. On June 17, 2004, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported S. 2537 (S.Rept. 108-280), its version of the FY2005 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee recommends $700 million for fire grants in FY2005, and, like the House, funds the program under the OSLGCP. Also similar to the House version, the Senate bill does not include bill language, requested in the Administration proposal, which would refocus the program on enhancing terrorism preparedness. The Committee directs DHS “to continue the present practice of funding applications according to local priorities and those established by the USFA.” The Senate passed its version of the FY2005 Homeland Security Appropriations bill on September 14, 2004. During floor consideration of the bill, an addition of $50 million was approved for fire grants, bringing the Senate level to $750 million. The Conference Agreement on H.R. 4567 (H.Rept. 108-774) sets the fire grants program at $650 million for FY2005. The Conferees reiterated concerns over the Administration’s proposal to shift grant focus from all-hazards to terrorism, and 4 “Fire prevention and safety grants” are distinct from fire grants for prevention activities given exclusively to fire departments under the primary fire grant program. CRS-3 directed that all currently eligible activities should continue to be funded. The Conference Report stated that the fire grant program should be administered by the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness, and that the USFA should be included in the grant administration process. The House approved the Conference Report on October 9, 2004; it was approved by the Senate on October 11. The bill was signed into law (P.L. 108-334) on October 18, 2004. Table 1. Appropriations for Assistance to Firefighters Program, FY2001 - FY2005 Appropriation FY2001 $100 million FY2002 $360 million FY2003 $745 million FY2004 $746 million FY2005 $650 million Total, FY2001-FY2005 $2.6 billion FY2001 Grants On December 21, 2000, President Clinton signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2001 (H.R. 5666; P.L. 106-554). P.L. 106-554 provided $100 million in FY2001 funding for the Assistance to Firefighters Program. For the initial year of the program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency/U.S. Fire Administration (FEMA/USFA) received 31,295 grant applications from 18,915 fire departments, totaling $2.99 billion in requests. Between July 23 and September 30, 2001, FEMA/USFA awarded 1,855 grants to local fire departments throughout the nation, and 31 grants to fire prevention or safety organizations, for a total of 1,886 grants worth $96,586,668. Table 2 provides a breakdown of FY2001 award recipients by category. CRS-4 Table 2. FY2001 Fire Grant Award Recipients, By Category Category Number of Awards Amount of Awards Training 160 $5,199,356 Wellness & Fitness 168 $8,256,720 Vehicles 208 $20,412,605 Fire Prevention 209 $9,071,484 Fire Fighting Equipment 404 $14,919,463 Personal Protective Equipment 706 $34,136,809 Total, Fire grants 1,855 $91,996,439 31 $4,590,156 1,886 $96,586,668 Fire Prevention and Safety Grants TOTAL Source: U.S. Fire Administration FY2002 Grants In its preliminary FY2002 budget document, “Blueprint for a New Beginning,” the Bush Administration proposed abolishing the fire grant program, arguing that it did not represent an appropriate responsibility of the federal government. After intense opposition from the fire community, the Administration reversed its position and proposed $100 million in FY2002 for the Assistance to Firefighters Program. The November 6, 2001 House-Senate conference agreement (H.Rept. 107-272) set the Assistance to Firefighters Program at $150 million for FY2002. The FY2002 VA-HUD appropriations act was signed into law (P.L. 107-73) on November 26, 2001. Supplemental FY2002 funding for the firefighter grant program was provided in the homeland security package contained in the FY2002 Defense Appropriations Act (P.L. 107-117, H.R. 3338), signed into law on January 10, 2002. P.L. 107-117 appropriated an additional $210 million in FY2002 funding for the Assistance to Firefighters grant program. Thus, the total FY2002 appropriation for the fire grant program was $360 million. In FY2002, USFA received over 19,900 applications requesting a total of $2.98 billion. Volunteer and combination5 fire departments accounted for approximately 91% of applications, with career departments filing the remaining 9%.6 In all, $334 5 A “combination fire department” is a fire department with a mixture of paid and volunteer personnel. 6 Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspections, Evaluations, and Special (continued...) CRS-5 million in grant money was awarded in FY2002 in four broad program areas: fire operations and firefighter safety; firefighting vehicles; emergency medical services; and fire prevention programs. USFA began announcing FY2002 awards on July 11, 2002.7 Table 3 provides a breakdown of FY2002 award recipients by category. Table 3. FY2002 Awards Recipient, By Category Category Number of Awards Amount of Awards 4,731 $281,091,066 Fire Prevention 215 $10,926,998 Firefighting Vehicles 315 $39,277,630 Emergency Medical Services 53 $3,069,736 Total, Fire Grants 5,314 $334,365,430 51 $4,806,165 5,365 $339,171,595 Fire Operations & Firefighter Safety Fire Prevention and Safety Grants TOTAL Source: U.S. Fire Administration FY2003 Grants The President’s FY2003 budget proposal sought to transfer $150 million of funding for the Assistance to Firefighter Program into FEMA’s newly formed Office of National Preparedness, where the fire grant program would be incorporated into the President’s proposed $3.5 billion First Responder grant program. The 107th Congress was not able to complete passage of the VA-HUD-Independent Agencies appropriation for FY2003. In the 108th Congress, the FY2003 Omnibus Appropriations (P.L. 108-7;H.J.Res 2) was signed into law on February 20, 2003, and provides $745 million to the Assistance to Firefighters Program. P.L. 108-7 established a separate appropriations account for the program — “Firefighter Assistance Grants.” The FY2003 grant application period began on March 10, 2003, and ended on April 11, 2003. About 19,950 applications were received, requesting approximately $2.5 billion in funding (including both the federal and nonfederal share). Approximately $2 billion in federal funding was requested. The first round of awards was announced on June 12, 2003; the final round (35th Round) was announced on March 5, 2004 (see Table 4). Separate fire prevention and safety 6 (...continued) Reviews, A Review of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, OIG-ISP-01-03, September 2003, p. 39. 7 For award totals and recipients, see [http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fire-service/grants/afgp/ awards/2002awards/02awards.shtm]. CRS-6 awards (totaling $27.5 million) are also awarded. The first round of fire prevention and safety awards was announced on April 9, 2004. Table 4. FY2003 Award Recipients, By Category Category Fire Operations & Firefighter Safety Fire Prevention Firefighting Vehicles Emergency Medical Services Total, Fire grants Fire Prevention and Safety Grants (1st through 6th Rounds) TOTAL Source: U.S. Fire Administration Number of Awards Amount of Awards 6,901 $492,671,198 295 $14,070,509 1,367 $184,233,676 67 $4,145,676 8,630 $695,121,059 398 $19,469,083 9,028 $714,590,142 FY2004 Grants The Administration’s FY2004 budget requested $500 million for the Assistance to Firefighters Program. The budget proposal sought to fund the fire grant program as part of the $3.5 billion Office for Domestic Preparedness, located within the Department of Homeland Security’s Directorate of Border and Transportation Security. The FY2004 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act P.L. 108-90) funded fire grants at $746 million for FY2004, and provided fire grant funding as a separate appropriation within the Office for Domestic Preparedness. The Conference Report (H.Rept. 108-280) specified that DHS shall “continue current administrative practices in a manner identical to the current fiscal year, including a peer review process of applications, granting funds directly to local fire departments, and the inclusion of the United States Fire Administration during grant administration.” Beginning in FY2004, the fire grant program is administered by the Office for Domestic Preparedness. The application period for the FY2004 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program opened on March 1, 2004 and closed on April 2, 2004. Funding is available in three categories: fire operations and firefighter safety, fire prevention, and firefighting vehicles. Grants for preparedness for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) incidents has been specifically added in all three categories. ODP plans to direct grant money to “WMD Priority Communities” — primarily high-threat urban areas.8 For official program guidelines, frequently-asked-questions, 8 Office of Domestic Preparedness, Department of Homeland Security, 2004 Assistance to (continued...) CRS-7 the latest awards announcements, and other information, see the Assistance to Firefighters grant program web page at [http://www.firegrantsupport.com]. The application period for the FY2004 grants opened on March 1, 2004 and closed on April 2. Over 20,000 applications were received, requesting approximately $2.664 billion in funding (including both the federal and nonfederal share). Approximately $2.345 billion in federal funding was requested. The first round of awards was announced on June 4, 2004. Subsequent rounds are announced weekly. Program Evaluation On May 13, 2003, the USFA released the first independent evaluation of the Assistance to Firefighters Program. Conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Leadership Development Academy Executive Potential Program, the survey study presented a number of recommendations and concluded overall that the program was “highly effective in improving the readiness and capabilities of firefighters across the nation.”9 Another evaluation of the fire grant program was released by the DHS Office of Inspector General in September 2003. The report concluded that the program “succeeded in achieving a balanced distribution of funding through a competitive grant process,”10 and made a number of specific recommendations for improving the program. The Administration’s FY2005 budget proposal is accompanied by program evaluations called the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART). PART gave the fire grant program a rating of “Results Not Demonstrated,” and found that “the program is unfocused and has not been able to demonstrate its impact on public safety, though the grant administration process is generally well-managed.” The PART recommendation is as follows: “In 2004, ODP will strengthen performance measures and place greater emphasis on the unique role of Federal funds, particularly for terrorism preparedness. In addition, $250 million is shifted to grants for ‘highthreat’ urban areas.”11 Distribution of Fire Grants The Fire Act statute provides overall guidelines on how fire grant money will be distributed and administered. The law directs that volunteer departments receive a proportion of the total grant funding that is not less than the proportion of the U.S. population that those departments protect (currently 55%). The Assistance to 8 (...continued) Firefighters Grant Program, Workshop for New Applicants, power point presentation available at [http://www.firegrantsupport.com/present.aspx] 9 For full report see [http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/affgp-fy01-usda-report.pdf]. 10 Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspections, Evaluations, and Special Reviews, “A Review of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program,” OIG-ISP-01-03, September 2003, p. 3. Available at [http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/OIG_ Review_Fire_Assist.pdf]. 11 Budget of the United States Government, FY2005, p. 177. CRS-8 Firefighters Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2004 (Title XXXVI of P.L.108375) raised award caps and lowered nonfederal matching requirements (based on recipient community population), extended eligibility to nonaffiliated emergency medical services (i.e. ambulance services not affiliated with fire departments), and expanded the scope of grants to include firefighter safety R&D. The reauthorization legislation also designates the USFA Administrator as the administering authority of the fire grant program. There is no set geographical formula for the distribution of fire grants – fire departments throughout the nation apply, and award decisions are made by a peer panel based on the merits of the application and the needs of the community. However, the law does require that fire grants should be distributed to a diverse mix of fire departments, with respect to type of department (paid, volunteer, or combination), geographic location, and type of community served (e.g. urban, suburban, or rural).12 The Fire Act’s implementing regulation provides that: In a few cases, to fulfill our obligations under the law to make grants to a variety of departments, we may also make funding decisions using rank order as the preliminary basis, and then analyze the type of fire department (paid, volunteer, or combination fire departments), the size and character of the community it serves (urban, suburban, or rural), and/or the geographic location of the fire department. In these instances where we are making decisions based on geographic location, we will use States as the basic geographic unit.13 According to the FY2004 Program Guidance for the Assistance to Firefighters Program, career (paid) departments will compete against other career departments for up to 45% of the available funding, while volunteer and combination departments will compete for at least 55% of the available funding. However, given that less than 10% of fire grant applications are historically received from career departments, funding levels are likely not to reach the 45% ceiling for career departments.14 Additionally, each fire department that applies is classified as either urban, suburban, or rural. The Bush Administration’s Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) that accompanied the FY2005 budget proposal notes that in FY2002, 9% of fire grant funds went to urban areas, 20% to suburban areas, and the rest (71%) went to rural areas. Finally, in an effort to maximize the diversity of awardees, the geographic location of an applicant (using states as the basic geographic unit) is used as a deciding factor in cases where applicants have similar qualifications.15 Table 6 shows a state-by-state breakdown of fire grant funding for fiscal years 2001 through 2003. Table 7 provides an in-depth look at the FY2003 grants, showing, for each 12 15 U.S.C. 2229(b)(9) 13 44 CFR Part 152.6(c) 14 Department of Homeland Security, Program Guidance for the 2004 Assistance to Firefighters Program, February 2004, p. 24. 15 Ibid. CRS-9 state, the number of fire departments in each state,16 the number of fire grant applications, the total amount requested, the total amount awarded, and the amount of funds awarded as a percentage of funds requested. As Table 7 shows, fire departments in a given state cumulatively averaged about 33% of the funds they requested in FY2003. Activities in the 108th Congress Fire Act Reauthorization. The authorization for the original Fire Act (Section 33 of the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act, 15 USC 2229) extended through FY2004. On April 1, 2004, Representative Boehlert introduced H.R. 4107 – the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Reauthorization Act of 2004. H.R. 4107 would have extended the authorization (at a yearly level of $900 million) through FY2007. The USFA Administrator was specifically designated as the entity who shall administer the program. Additionally, H.R. 4107 sought to increase the current award caps for grant recipients, while reducing required cost-sharing nonfederal matches. Of perhaps greatest controversy was a provision which would prohibit grant recipients from discriminating against or prohibiting firefighters from engaging in volunteer firefighting activities in other jurisdictions during off-duty hours. The House Committee on Science held a hearing on H.R. 4107 on May 12, 2004. On May 11, 2004, the Senate version of the fire grant reauthorization was introduced by Senator Dodd. S. 2411, the Assistance to Firefighters Act of 2004, would have authorized the fire grant program through FY2010 and designated the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security as the program’s administering authority. Unlike the House bill, S. 2411 did not contain a provision on volunteer firefighter discrimination. On June 17, 2004, the text of S. 2411 was adopted as an amendment (offered by Senator Dodd) to the FY2005 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 2400, Division D, Sections 4001-4013). On June 23, 2004, S. 2400 was passed by the Senate and incorporated into the House-passed Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 4200). The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing on S. 2411 on July 8, 2004. On October 9, 2004 the House and Senate approved the Conference Agreement on H.R. 4200 (H.Rept. 108-767). Title XXXVI of H.R. 4200 (Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2004) reauthorizes the fire grant program at $900 million for FY2005, $950 million for FY2006, and $1 billion for each of the fiscal years 2007 through 2009. Award caps are raised, nonfederal matching requirements are lowered, eligibility is extended to include nonaffiliated emergency medical services (i.e. ambulance services not affiliated with fire departments), and the scope of grants is expanded to include firefighter safety R&D. H.R. 4200 does not contain the provision on volunteer firefighter discrimination. 16 The fire grant program sets a limit of one application per fire department. Thus, the number of fire departments in a state plays a major factor in the number of fire grant applications submitted and the amount of total funding awarded within a given state. For example, because Pennsylvania has – by far – the largest number of fire departments, it is not surprising that it leads the nation in the number of fire grants applications and the amount of funding awarded. CRS-10 The reauthorization legislation designates the USFA Administrator as the administering authority of the fire grant program. H.R. 4200 was signed into law (P.L. 108-375) by the President on October 28, 2004. Table 5 provides a summary of key provisions of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2004. Table 5. Major Provisions of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Reauthorization Act Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2004, Section XXXVI of P.L. 108-375, FY05 National Defense Authorization Act Places program under the authority of the USFA Administrator Grant recipient limits: $2.75 million – populations over 1 million $1.75 million --500K to 1 million $1 million – under 500K DHS can waive these limits in instances of extraordinary need Nonfederal match requirements: 20% for populations over 50K 10% for populations 20K to 50K 5% for populations less than 20K No match requirement for prevention and firefighter safety grants Authorized for five years: FY2005 – $900 million FY2006 – $950 million FY2007 – $1 billion FY2008 – $1 billion FY2009 – $1 billion Expands grant eligibility to emergency medical service squads, not less than 3.5% of fire grant money for EMS, but no more than 2% for nonaffiliated EMS Provides grants for firefighter health and safety R&D Requires the USFA Administrator to convene an annual meeting of non-federal fire service experts to recommend criteria for awarding grants and administrative changes Requires fire service peer review of grant applications Requires the USFA, in conjunction with the National Fire Protection Association, to conduct a $300,000, 18-month study on the fire grant program and the need for federal assistance to state and local communities to fund firefighting and emergency response activities SAFER Act. In the first session of the 108th Congress, Congress enacted the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Act as Section 1057 of the FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-136; signed into law November 24, 2003). The SAFER Act authorizes federal grants of over $1 billion per year through 2010 directly to fire departments for the hiring of personnel. The SAFER Act gives the U.S. Fire Administrator authority to issue four-year grants for CRS-11 new hires, with the condition that the recipient fire department must assume an increasing percentage of the cost in each year. No money was appropriated for SAFER grants in FY2004. Whether or not the SAFER Act should be funded has proven controversial. The Bush Administration requested no funding for SAFER grants in FY2005. While firefighters argued that inadequate state and local budgets leave many fire departments critically understaffed and in need of federal assistance, the Administration argued that funding local firefighter hiring was not an appropriate federal role. On June 17, 2004, Representative Curt Weldon offered a floor amendment to the FY2005 Homeland Security Appropriations bill (H.R. 4567) which would have provided $50 million for SAFER grants in FY2005. The amendment was adopted and the bill was subsequently passed by the House on June 18, 2004. On September 14, 2004, the Senate adopted an amendment offered by Senator Dodd to H.R. 4567 which would have provide $100 million for the SAFER Act. The final Conference Agreement on H.R. 4567 (H.Rept. 108-774) provides SAFER Act grants with $65 million for FY2005. The FY2005 Homeland Security Appropriations bill (P.L. 108-334) was signed by the President on October 18, 2004. DHS is currently preparing regulations and guidelines on implementing the SAFER program. CRS-12 Table 6. State-by-State Distribution of Fire Grants, FY2001-FY2003 (millions of dollars) FY2001 FY2002 Alabama 3.085 12.503 23.329 38.917 Alaska 1.303 2.641 5.242 9.186 Arizona 1.37 3.6 7.490 12.46 Arkansas 1.337 4.635 10.675 16.647 California 5.905 18.978 30.060 54.943 Colorado 1.003 3.968 6.168 11.139 Connecticut 1.828 4.675 10.841 17.344 Delaware 0.132 0.372 1.096 1.6 0 0.22 0 0.22 Florida 2.865 10.16 16.344 29.369 Georgia 2.375 6.079 13.791 22.245 0 1.182 0.947 2.129 Idaho 0.916 2.744 6.001 9.661 Illinois 2.417 13.398 28.810 44.625 Indiana 2.703 8.739 20.456 31.898 Iowa 1.301 7.284 16.087 24.672 Kansas 1.153 5.118 10.850 17.121 Kentucky 2.215 7.896 19.832 29.943 Louisiana 3.344 10.084 12.248 25.676 Maine 1.296 4.319 10.323 15.938 Maryland 0.739 4.08 8.153 12.972 Massachusetts 2.301 8.386 15.715 26.402 Michigan 2.815 8.948 17.247 29.01 Minnesota 2.133 8.149 17.510 27.792 Mississippi 1.763 6.755 15.679 24.197 Missouri 3.079 10.291 19.573 32.943 Montana 1.164 3.726 8.361 13.251 Nebraska 1.034 2.392 7.820 11.246 Nevada 0.282 1.446 3.312 5.04 New Hampshire 0.594 1.887 4.584 7.065 New Jersey 2.596 6.339 19.982 28.917 New Mexico 1.455 3.463 5.048 9.966 New York 3.978 14.728 34.320 53.026 North Carolina 1.949 10.239 22.864 35.052 District of Columbia Hawaii FY2003 Total, FY01-FY03 CRS-13 FY2001 FY2002 North Dakota 0.546 2.613 5.105 8.264 Ohio 2.731 13.742 26.997 43.47 Oklahoma 1.864 4.939 10.540 17.343 Oregon 1.596 4.892 9.896 16.384 Pennsylvania 2.89 16.97 45.179 65.039 Rhode Island 0.407 1.507 2.327 4.241 South Carolina 1.554 5.257 11.832 18.643 South Dakota 0.904 3.142 5.602 9.648 2.46 11.509 19.306 33.275 3.697 15.644 29.264 48.605 0.9 2.754 4.628 8.282 Vermont 0.451 1.971 5.163 7.585 Virginia 2.066 8.79 15.816 26.672 Washington 1.535 7.544 18.808 27.887 West Virginia 1.067 3.966 9.942 14.975 Wisconsin 2.077 7.518 18.234 27.829 Wyoming 1.09 1.612 3.507 6.209 0.657 0.382 1.643 2.682 0 0.225 0 0.225 0.145 0 0 0.145 0 0.016 0 0.016 American Samoa 0.164 0 0 0.164 Virgin Islands 0.741 0 0.544 1.285 91.972 334.417 695.121 1,121.51 Tennessee Texas Utah Puerto Rico Saipan Rota Guam TOTAL Source: U.S. Fire Administration FY2003 Total, FY01-FY03 CRS-14 Table 7. Requests and Awards for Fire Grant Funding, FY2003 Number of Fire/EMS Departments (source: firehouse.com) Number of Applications Federal funds requested ($millions) Federal funds awarded ($millions) Funds awarded as a percentage of funds requested Alabama 935 586 56.426 23.329 41.34% Alaska 110 90 12.798 5.242 40.95% Arizona 267 162 20.534 7.490 36.47% Arkansas 818 441 31.120 10.675 34.30% California 757 589 79.188 30.060 37.96% Colorado 354 217 19.468 6.168 31.68% Connecticut 365 227 31.609 10.841 34.29% Delaware 72 33 3.990 1.096 27.46% Dist. of Columbia 11 2 0.939 0 0% Florida 696 366 47.715 16.344 34.25% Georgia 767 358 38.870 13.791 35.47% Hawaii 16 4 1.245 0.947 76.06% Idaho 206 136 15.394 6.001 38.98% Illinois 1041 862 92.147 28.810 31.26% Indiana 621 527 64.139 20.456 31.89% Iowa 856 587 49.335 16.087 32.60% Kansas 664 364 29.886 10.850 36.30% Kentucky 779 549 55.034 19.832 36.03% Louisiana 538 337 34.856 12.248 35.13% Maine 416 295 33.279 10.323 31.01% Maryland 381 172 28.106 8.153 29.00% Massachusetts 398 331 49.263 15.715 31.90% Michigan 824 652 56.590 17.247 30.47% Minnesota 755 526 46.814 17.510 37.40% Mississippi 746 451 37.472 15.679 41.84% Missouri 846 553 55.612 19.573 35.19% Montana 271 224 16.966 8.361 49.28% Nebraska 483 231 18.620 7.820 41.99% CRS-15 Number of Fire/EMS Departments (source: firehouse.com) Number of Applications Federal funds requested ($millions) Federal funds awarded ($millions) Funds awarded as a percentage of funds requested Nevada 151 74 10.390 3.312 31.87% New Hampshire 247 158 14.480 4.584 31.65% New Jersey 988 509 58.549 19.982 34.12% New Mexico 324 135 15.375 5.048 32.83% New York 1815 1245 120.489 34.320 28.48% North Carolina 1372 717 81.267 22.864 28.13% North Dakota 319 168 12.961 5.105 39.38% 1312 832 92.668 26.997 29.13% Oklahoma 760 416 26.797 10.540 39.33% Oregon 346 213 25.469 9.896 38.85% Pennsylvania 2563 1660 191.967 45.179 23.53% Rhode Island 95 56 7.203 2.327 32.30% South Carolina 576 336 34.267 11.832 34.52% South Dakota 341 209 15.710 5.602 35.65% Tennessee 625 503 44.852 19.306 43.04% Texas 1808 837 91.884 29.264 31.84% Utah 218 137 14.282 4.628 32.40% Vermont 248 156 14.579 5.163 35.41% Virginia 769 340 42.583 15.816 37.14% Washington 524 359 46.049 18.808 40.84% West Virginia 465 278 32.995 9.942 30.13% Wisconsin 881 585 53.424 18.234 34.13% Wyoming 128 76 9.446 3.507 37.12% 31,822 19,949 2,093.800 695.121 33.19% Ohio TOTAL Source: U.S. Fire Administration