Boost Grant Funding, Fire and Emergency Chiefs Tell Congress

International Association of Fire Chiefs President Chief Jim Harmes asked members of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee's Homeland Security Subcommittee on March 9 to provide $50 million for the U.S. Fire Administration in FY2008, saying USFA has started several initiatives that deserve full funding. Harmes also urged full funding of FIRE Act grants in FY2008, citing an October 2006 report from USFA/NFPA that identified serious needs by the fire service.

The report estimated 65 percent of fire departments do not have enough portable radios to equip all emergency responders on a shift, and 60 percent do not have enough SCBAs to equip all firefighters on a shift. About half (48 percent) of fire departments don't have enough PASS devices to equip all emergency responders on a shift, Harmes said. He testified during a "Preparing for Disasters, Natural and Otherwise" hearing that included testimony by International Association of Fire Fighters President Harold A. Schaitberger and Michael D. Selves, CEM, president of International Association of Emergency Managers. Selves asked the subcommittee to support a more powerful role for FEMA's administrator and to fund the Emergency Management Performance Grant Program at $375 million in FY2008.

"It was a great opportunity to educate Congress on the important role of the fire service in promoting preparedness for all hazards," Harmes said after the hearing.

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