Order Code RL32341 CRS Report for Congress Received through the CRS Web Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Updated April 6, 2006 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 of Grants and Training within the Preparedness Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the program provides federal grants directly to local fire departments and unaffiliated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizations to help address a variety of equipment, training, and other firefighter-related and EMS needs. The fire grant program is now in its sixth year. Over $3.14 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 preceding 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. This report will be updated as events warrant. Contents Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 FY2001 Grants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 FY2002 Grants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 FY2003 Grants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 FY2004 Grants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 FY2005 Grants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 FY2006 Grants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Program Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Distribution of Fire Grants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Activities in the 108th Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Fire Act Reauthorization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 SAFER Act . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Issues in the 109th Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 List of Tables Table 1. Appropriations for Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, FY2001-FY2006 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Table 2. Appropriations for SAFER Program, FY2005-FY2006 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Table 3. FY2001 Fire Grant Award Recipients, By Category . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Table 4. FY2002 Awards Recipient, By Category . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Table 5. FY2003 Award Recipients, By Category . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Table 6. Major Provisions of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Reauthorization Act . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Table 7. State-by-State Distribution of Fire Grants, FY2001-FY2005 . . . . . . . . 14 Table 8. State-by-State Distribution of SAFER Grants, FY2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Table 9. Requests and Awards for Fire Grant Funding, FY2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 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 of Grants and Training within Preparedness Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the program provides federal grants directly to local fire departments and unaffiliated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizations to help address a variety of equipment, training, and other firefighter-related and EMS 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; 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. 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 1 2 See CRS Report RS21302, Assistance to Firefighters Program, by Lennard G. Kruger. “Firefighter assistance” is codified as section 33 of the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act (15 USC 2229). CRS-2 community fire prevention or safety organizations (including, but not limited to, fire departments).3 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 in its sixth year. Table 1 shows the fire grant program’s appropriations history. Over $3.14 billion has been appropriated to the fire grant program since FY2001, its first year. Table 1. Appropriations for Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, FY2001-FY2006 Fiscal year Appropriation FY2001 $100 million FY2002 $360 million FY2003 $745 million FY2004 $746 million FY2005 $650 million FY2006 $539 million Total $3.14 billion A related issue is the role of the federal government in assisting fire departments to hire personnel. Firefighters have argued that inadequate state and local budgets leave many fire departments critically understaffed, and that federal assistance is needed. On the other hand, the Administration has argued that funding the hiring of firefighters is not an appropriate federal role. In the first session of the 108th Congress, Congress enacted the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Firefighters (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 firefighters and recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. The SAFER Act authorizes four-year grants for new hires, with the condition that the recipient fire department must assume an increasing percentage of the cost in each year. The SAFER program is in its second year. Table 2 shows the SAFER program’s appropriations history. $174 million has been appropriated to the SAFER program since FY2005, its first year. 3 “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 Table 2. Appropriations for SAFER Program, FY2005-FY2006 Fiscal year Appropriation FY2005 $65 million FY2006 $109 million Total $174 million 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 3 provides a breakdown of FY2001 award recipients by category. Table 3. 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. CRS-4 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 combination4 fire departments accounted for approximately 91% of applications, with career departments filing the remaining 9%.5 In all, $334 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, 2002.6 Table 4 provides a breakdown of FY2002 award recipients by category. Table 4. FY2002 Awards Recipient, By Category Category Fire Operations & Firefighter Safety Number of awards Amount of awards 4,731 $281,091,066 Fire Prevention 215 $10,926,998 Firefighting Vehicles 315 $39,277,630 53 $3,069,736 5,314 $334,365,430 51 $4,806,165 5,365 $339,171,595 EMS Total, Fire Grants Fire Prevention and Safety Total Source: U.S. Fire Administration. 4 A “combination fire department” is a fire department with a mixture of paid and volunteer personnel. 5 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. 39. 6 For award totals and recipients, see [http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fire-service/grants/afgp/ awards/2002awards/02awards.shtm]. CRS-5 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 5). Separate fire prevention and safety awards (totaling $27.5 million) were also awarded. The first round of fire prevention and safety awards was announced on April 9, 2004. Table 5. 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 Total 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 Source: U.S. Fire Administration. 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. CRS-6 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.” During FY2004, the fire grant program was administered by the Office for Domestic Preparedness. Funding was available in three categories: fire operations and firefighter safety, fire prevention, and firefighting vehicles. Grants for preparedness for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) incidents was specifically added in all three categories. ODP plans to direct grant money to “WMD Priority Communities” — primarily high-threat urban areas.7 The application period for the FY2004 grants opened on March 1 and closed on April 2, 2004. 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. To date, 7876 awards have been made, totaling $684,326,324. The Fire Prevention and Safety grant program issued 532 awards totaling $35,234,823. FY2005 Grants For FY2005, the Administration requested $500 million for the fire grant program and zero for SAFER. The House passed the FY2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act (H.R. 4567) on June 18, 2004. H.R. 4567 sought to provide $600 million for firefighter grants in FY2005, while funding 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 recommended $700 million for fire grants in FY2005, and, like the House, sought to fund the program under the OSLGCP. Also similar to the House version, the Senate bill did not include bill language, requested in the Administration proposal, which would refocus the program on enhancing terrorism preparedness. The Committee directed DHS “to continue the present practice of funding applications according to local priorities and those established by 7 Office of Domestic Preparedness, Department of Homeland Security, 2004 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, Workshop for New Applicants, power point presentation available at [http://www.firegrantsupport.com/present.aspx]. CRS-7 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) set the fire grants program at $650 million and SAFER at $65 million for FY2005. The Conferees reiterated concerns over the Administration’s proposal to shift grant focus from allhazards to terrorism, and 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. The application period for the FY2005 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program opened on March 7, 2005 and closed on April 8, 2005. Fire departments could apply for grants in one of two programmatic areas: Operations and Firefighter Safety and Firefighting Vehicle Acquisition. Unaffiliated EMS organizations could apply for grants in either EMS Operations and Safety or EMS Vehicle Acquisition. All applications were evaluated by peer review, although requests for equipment or training related to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive devices (CBRNE) and interoperable communications underwent additional state technical review. A total of 20,972 applications were received, requesting approximately $2.916 billion in funding (including both the federal and nonfederal share). Approximately $2.678 billion in federal funding was requested. To date, 5725 awards have been made, totaling $585.6 million. The Fire Prevention and Safety grant program accepted applications from September 6 through October 7, 2005. Applicants requested $337.863 million in federal funds. To date, the Fire Prevention and Safety grant program has issued 97 awards totaling $5.9 million. The SAFER grants program accepted applications between May 31 and June 28, 2005. A total of 2954 applications were submitted, representing $2.883 billion in total project costs and $1.142 billion in federal funds requested. To date, 137 awards have been made, totaling $61.3 million. FY2006 Grants The Administration’s FY2006 budget proposal requested $500 million for fire grants and zero for SAFER. Priority would be given to grant applications enhancing terrorism capabilities. Grants would be available only for training, vehicles, firefighting equipment, and personal protective equipment. Under the budget proposal, activities such as wellness/fitness and fire station modification would not be funded. Activities such as prevention, public fire safety education and awareness, and fire code enforcement would be funded under the separate fire prevention and firefighter safety grant program. CRS-8 On May 10, 2005 the House Appropriations Committee reported the FY2006 Homeland Security Appropriations bill (H.R. 2360; H.Rept. 109-79). The Committee recommended $600 million for firefighter assistance, including $550 million for fire grants and $50 million for SAFER Act grants. The Committee did not agree with the Administration’s proposal to shift the program’s priority to terrorism or to limit the list of eligible activities. During House consideration of H.R. 2360, an amendment was adopted on the House floor (H.Amdt. 134 offered by Mr. Sabo) which added $50 million to firefighter assistance — $25 million for fire grants and $25 million for SAFER grants. The House passed H.R. 2360 on May 17, 2005. The total House appropriation was $575 million for fire grants and $75 million for SAFER grants. On June 16, 2005, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY2006 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. The Committee recommended $615 million for firefighter assistance, including $550 million for fire grants and $65 million for SAFER Act grants. The Committee report states that DHS should “continue the present practice of funding applications according to local priorities and those established by the United States Fire Administration.” After adopting S.Amdt. 1133 during floor debate, the Senate passed (on July 14, 2005) its version of H.R. 2360 which redistributes the $615 million for firefighter assistance as follows: $500 million for fire grants and $115 million for SAFER act grants. The Conference agreement for H.R. 2360 (H.Rept. 109-241) provided a total of $655 million for firefighter assistance, including $545 million for fire grants and $110 million for SAFER grants. The Conferees expressed concern with the Administration’s proposed shift in focus from all-hazards to terrorism. Further, the Conferees specified that all previously funded areas should continue to be funded, and that the U.S. Fire Administration continue to be included in grant administration activities. The FY2006 Homeland Security Appropriations bill was signed into law (P.L. 109-90) on October 18, 2005. The government-wide 1% rescission mandated by the FY2006 Department of Defense appropriations bill (P.L. 109-115) lowered the FY2006 appropriation for assistance to firefighters (fire grants plus SAFER) to $648 million. The application period for the FY2006 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program ran from March 6 through April 7, 2006. For the first time, the FY2006 program is accepting applications for regional projects. For up-to-date application information, official program guidelines, and frequently-asked-questions, see the Assistance to Firefighters grant program web page at [http://www.firegrantsupport.com]. 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 CRS-9 firefighters across the nation.”8 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,”9 and made a number of specific recommendations for improving the program. The Administration’s FY2007 budget proposal was accompanied by program evaluations called the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART). PART gave the fire grant program a rating of “Results Not Demonstrated,” and made the following criticisms: grant funding is not targeted for jurisdictions with higher rates of fire deaths, injuries, or hazards; performance measures reflect the program’s purpose, but data collection has been inconsistent; and in focusing on investments that have long been local funding responsibility, the program has provided little support for fire departments’ preparedness for terrorism and other catastrophic events.10 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 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. 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).11 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 8 For full report see [http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/affgp-fy01-usda-report.pdf]. 9 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]. 10 See [http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/expectmore/summary.10001071.2005.html]. 11 15 U.S.C. 2229(b)(9). CRS-10 department. In these instances where we are making decisions based on geographic location, we will use States as the basic geographic unit.12 According to the FY2006 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.13 Additionally, each fire department that applies is classified as either urban, suburban, or rural. In FY2003, 5% of fire grant awards went to urban areas, 13% to suburban areas, and 82% to rural areas.14 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 7 shows a state-by-state breakdown of fire grant funding for FY2001 through FY2005, while Table 8 shows a state-by-state breakdown of SAFER grant funding for FY2005 (the program’s initial year). Table 9 provides an in-depth look at the FY2005 fire grants, showing, for each 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 9 shows, fire departments on average received about 22% of the funds they requested in FY2005. This is down from 28% in FY2004 and 34% 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 12 44 CFR Part 152.6(c). 13 Department of Homeland Security, 2006 Program Guidance for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, February 2006, p. 40. 14 Department of Homeland Security, Report on the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program for FY2003, October 7, 2005, p. 13. 15 16 Ibid, p. 34. 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-11 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. 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 6 provides a summary of key provisions. CRS-12 Table 6. 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 response to concerns over the adequacy of firefighter staffing, the 108th 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 grant program is codified as Section 34 of the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974 (15 U.S.C. 2229a). The SAFER Act authorizes grants to career, volunteer, and combination fire departments for the purpose of increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. Also authorized are grants to volunteer fire departments for activities related to the recruitment and retention of volunteers. P.L. 108-136 authorizes over one billion dollars per year through FY2010 for SAFER. CRS-13 Two types of grants are authorized by the SAFER Act: hiring grants and recruitment and retention grants. Hiring grants cover a four year term and are costshared with the local jurisdiction. According to the statute, the federal share shall not exceed 90% in the first year of the grant, 80% in the second year, 50% in the third year, and 30% in the fourth year. The grantee must commit to retaining the firefighter or firefighters hired with the SAFER grant for at least one additional year after the federal money expires. Total federal funding for hiring a firefighter over the four year grant period may not exceed $100,000, although that total may be adjusted for inflation. While the majority of hiring grants will be awarded to career and combination fire departments, the SAFER Act specifies that 10% of the total SAFER appropriation be awarded to volunteer or majority-volunteer departments for the hiring of personnel. Additionally, at least 10% of the total SAFER appropriation is set aside for recruitment and retention grants, which are available to volunteer and combination fire departments for activities related to the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. Also eligible for recruitment and retention grants are local and statewide organizations that represent the interests of volunteer firefighters. No local cost sharing is required for recruitment and retention grants. Issues in the 109th Congress An ongoing issue is the focus of the fire grant program. Similar to the FY2006 proposal, the Administration’s FY2007 budget proposal would give priority to grant applications enhancing anti-terrorism capabilities. Firefighting groups have questioned this proposed shift, arguing that the original purpose of the Fire Act (enhancing basic firefighting needs) should not be compromised or diluted. Under the Administration’s proposal, FY2007 fire grants would be available exclusively for training, vehicles, firefighting equipment and personal protective equipment. Wellness/fitness activities and fire station modification would not be funded. Activities such as prevention, public fire safety education and awareness, fire code enforcement, fire inspector certifications and inspection activities, purchase and installation of smoke detectors, wild land mitigation awareness, and arson prevention would be funded under the separate fire prevention and firefighter safety grant program. Meanwhile, the Administration’s FY2007 budget proposal requests $293.45 million for fire grants in FY2007, a cut of 46% from the FY2006 level. Opponents of the cuts argue that the reduced levels are inadequate to meet the needs of fire departments, while the Administration argues that reduced levels are sufficient to enhance critical capabilities. Also, for the third consecutive year, the Administration is requesting no funding for SAFER Act grants. While firefighters assert that inadequate state and local budgets leave many fire departments critically understaffed and in need of federal assistance, the Administration argues that funding local firefighter hiring is not an appropriate federal role. For information on House and Senate actions regarding appropriations for the fire grant and SAFER programs, see CRS Report RS21302, Assistance to Firefighters Program, by Lennard G. Kruger. CRS-14 Table 7. State-by-State Distribution of Fire Grants, FY2001-FY2005 (millions of dollars) FY2001 FY2002 FY2003 FY2004 FY2005 Total Alabama 3.085 12.503 23.329 25.097 20.836 84.85 Alaska 1.303 2.641 5.242 2.522 3.111 14.819 Arizona 1.37 3.6 7.490 9.808 7.905 30.173 Arkansas 1.337 4.635 10.675 13.680 10.402 40.729 California 5.905 18.978 30.060 29.793 25.631 110.367 Colorado 1.003 3.968 6.168 5.585 6.073 22.797 Connecticut 1.828 4.675 10.841 9.991 7.287 34.622 Delaware 0.132 0.372 1.096 1.755 1.161 4.516 District of Columbia 0 0.22 0 0 0.453 0.673 Florida 2.865 10.16 16.344 15.969 17.922 63.26 Georgia 2.375 6.079 13.791 11.857 10.168 44.27 0 1.182 0.947 0.864 1.205 4.198 Idaho 0.916 2.744 6.001 4.828 4.684 19.173 Illinois 2.417 13.398 28.810 27.238 25.433 97.296 Indiana 2.703 8.739 20.456 18.646 15.779 66.323 Iowa 1.301 7.284 16.087 16.430 13.119 54.221 Kansas 1.153 5.118 10.850 10.211 7.165 34.497 Kentucky 2.215 7.896 19.832 16.150 14.215 60.308 Louisiana 3.344 10.084 12.248 11.101 11.630 48.407 Maine 1.296 4.319 10.323 10.031 6.124 32.093 Maryland 0.739 4.08 8.153 10.227 8.771 31.97 Massachusetts 2.301 8.386 15.715 13.958 13.529 53.889 Michigan 2.815 8.948 17.247 20.005 15.088 64.103 Minnesota 2.133 8.149 17.510 18.609 14.894 61.295 Mississippi 1.763 6.755 15.679 11.329 9.856 45.382 Missouri 3.079 10.291 19.573 17.757 14.246 64.946 Montana 1.164 3.726 8.361 7.271 6.656 27.178 Nebraska 1.034 2.392 7.820 6.577 5.116 22.939 Nevada 0.282 1.446 3.312 1.405 1.946 8.391 New Hampshire 0.594 1.887 4.584 5.694 4.563 17.322 New Jersey 2.596 6.339 19.982 16.488 14.691 60.096 New Mexico 1.455 3.463 5.048 3.653 2.259 15.878 New York 3.978 14.728 34.320 35.030 36.009 124.065 Hawaii CRS-15 FY2001 FY2002 FY2003 FY2004 FY2005 Total North Carolina 1.949 10.239 22.864 22.360 19.315 76.727 North Dakota 0.546 2.613 5.105 3.391 2.673 14.328 Ohio 2.731 13.742 26.997 29.107 27.344 99.921 Oklahoma 1.864 4.939 10.540 10.393 8.757 36.493 Oregon 1.596 4.892 9.896 10.122 10.014 36.52 Pennsylvania 2.89 16.97 45.179 47.898 39.233 152.17 Rhode Island 0.407 1.507 2.327 1.917 2.129 8.287 South Carolina 1.554 5.257 11.832 14.150 10.544 43.337 South Dakota 0.904 3.142 5.602 4.693 3.570 17.911 2.46 11.509 19.306 18.686 15.047 67.008 3.697 15.644 29.264 30.118 23.480 102.203 0.9 2.754 4.628 3.880 2.188 14.35 Vermont 0.451 1.971 5.163 4.747 2.071 14.403 Virginia 2.066 8.79 15.816 16.668 14.357 57.697 Washington 1.535 7.544 18.808 19.565 15.763 63.215 West Virginia 1.067 3.966 9.942 9.133 10.143 34.251 Wisconsin 2.077 7.518 18.234 19.668 17.685 65.182 Wyoming 1.09 1.612 3.507 1.811 2.032 10.052 0.657 0.382 1.643 1.140 1.104 4.926 0 0.225 0 0 0.220 0.445 0.145 0 0 0 0 0.145 0 0.016 0 0 0 0.016 American Samoa 0.164 0 0 0.284 0 0.448 Virgin Islands 0.741 0 0.544 0 0 1.285 91.972 334.417 695.121 679.305 585.619 2386.366 Tennessee Texas Utah Puerto Rico Saipan Rota Guam Total Source: Department of Homeland Security. CRS-16 Table 8. State-by-State Distribution of SAFER Grants, FY2005 (millions of dollars) FY2005 Alabama 1.611 Alaska 1.051 Arizona 1.560 Arkansas 0.394 California 5.221 Colorado 1.584 Connecticut 0.130 Delaware 0 District of Columbia 0 Florida 6.576 Georgia 5.354 Hawaii 0 Idaho 0.063 Illinois 1.340 Indiana 0 Iowa 0.169 Kansas 0.667 Kentucky 0.152 Louisiana 3.430 Maine 0.081 Maryland 0.096 Massachusetts 1.300 Michigan 1.759 Minnesota 0.300 Mississippi 0.756 Missouri 1.467 Montana 0.034 Nebraska 0 Nevada 1.500 New Hampshire 0.400 New Jersey 6.374 New Mexico 0 New York 1.540 North Carolina 2.155 North Dakota 0 CRS-17 FY2005 Ohio 1.319 Oklahoma 0.147 Oregon 1.710 Pennsylvania 1.244 Rhode Island 0.400 South Carolina 0.456 South Dakota 0.063 Tennessee 2.700 Texas 0.951 Utah 0.900 Vermont 0 Virginia 2.091 Washington 2.298 West Virginia 0 Wisconsin 0 Wyoming 0 Puerto Rico 0 Northern Mariana Islands 0 Marshall Islands 0 Guam 0 American Samoa 0 Virgin Islands 0 Republic of Palua 0 Total Source: Department of Homeland Security. 61.356 CRS-18 Table 9. Requests and Awards for Fire Grant Funding, FY2005 State Number of fire/EMS departmentsa Funds awarded as a Federal funds Federal funds percentage of funds awarded requested requested ($millions) ($millions) Number of applications Alabama 935 677 80.250 20.836 0.2596386293 Alaska 110 76 12.600 3.111 0.2469047619 Arizona 267 142 24.051 7.905 0.3286765623 Arkansas 818 483 47.556 10.402 0.2187316006 California 757 524 83.800 25.631 0.3058591885 Colorado 354 199 30.094 6.073 0.2018010235 Connecticut 365 231 33.834 7.287 0.2153750665 Delaware 72 33 5.530 1.161 0.2099457505 District of Columbia 11 2 0.491 0.453 0.9226069246 Florida 696 317 59.155 17.922 0.3029667822 Georgia 767 342 49.376 10.168 0.2059300065 Hawaii 16 5 1.257 1.205 0.9586316627 Idaho 206 141 19.547 4.684 0.2396275643 Illinois 1041 864 111.592 25.433 0.2279106029 Indiana 621 521 68.534 15.779 0.2302360872 Iowa 856 618 66.628 13.119 0.1968992015 Kansas 664 352 37.463 Kentucky 779 567 69.659 14.215 0.2040655192 Louisiana 538 328 38.373 11.630 0.3030776848 Maine 416 290 35.298 6.124 Maryland 381 207 38.558 8.771 0.2274754915 Massachusetts 398 306 52.792 13.529 0.2562698894 Michigan 824 700 77.586 15.088 0.1944680741 Minnesota 755 593 66.207 14.894 0.2249611068 Mississippi 746 449 47.699 9.856 0.2066290698 Missouri 846 576 62.244 14.246 0.2288734657 Montana 271 224 23.935 6.656 0.2780864842 7.165 0.191255372 0.173494249 CRS-19 Funds awarded as a Federal funds Federal funds percentage of funds awarded requested requested ($millions) ($millions) State Number of fire/EMS departmentsa Nebraska 483 272 29.818 5.116 0.1715742169 Nevada 151 44 7.087 1.946 0.2745872725 New Hampshire 247 165 18.693 4.563 0.2441020703 New Jersey 988 584 74.682 14.691 0.1967140676 New Mexico 324 120 15.485 2.259 0.1458831127 New York 1815 1353 158.458 36.009 0.2272463366 North Carolina 1372 786 113.828 19.315 0.1696858418 319 184 16.459 2.673 0.1624035482 1312 909 126.049 27.344 0.2169315108 Oklahoma 760 448 43.852 8.757 0.1996944267 Oregon 346 204 29.351 10.014 0.3411808797 Pennsylvania 2563 1939 268.033 39.233 0.1463737674 Rhode Island 95 71 8.662 2.129 0.2457861926 South Carolina 576 392 51.922 10.544 0.2030738415 South Dakota 341 227 18.533 3.570 0.1926293638 Tennessee 625 485 56.533 Texas 1808 828 114.576 23.480 0.2049294791 Utah 218 131 13.171 2.188 0.1661225419 Vermont 248 150 17.554 2.071 0.1179788082 Virginia 769 385 60.347 14.357 0.2379074353 Washington 524 352 57.413 15.763 0.2745545434 West Virginia 465 318 41.082 10.143 Wisconsin 881 696 71.982 17.685 0.2456864216 Wyoming 128 68 10.631 2.032 0.1911391214 Puerto Rico Not available 89 7.245 1.104 0.1523809524 Northern Marianas Not available 3 0.577 0.220 0.3812824957 Guam Not available 1 1.000 North Dakota Ohio Number of applications 15.047 0 0.266163126 0.246896451 0 CRS-20 State Virgin Islands Total Number of fire/EMS departmentsa Funds awarded as a Federal funds Federal funds percentage of funds awarded requested requested ($millions) ($millions) Number of applications Not available 1 0.798 0 0 31,822 20,972 2,677.956 585.619 21.87% crsphpgw Source: Department of Homeland Security. a. Data from [http://firehouse.com].