As communities grow, so does the call volume at local fire stations. But some fire stations and emergency medical service facilities are outdated and in need of significant health and safety upgrades to accommodate firefighters and EMS personnel and to better serve communities.
In an effort to enhance public safety, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is teaming up with Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) to introduce bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help construct and upgrade fire stations across the country.
The FIRE STATION Act will create a $750 million grant program within the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to modify, upgrade, and construct fire and EMS department facilities to support our first responders and their work to keep our communities safe.
According to a recent national report on local fire departments across the U.S., 44 percent of fire stations are over 40 years old and in need of significant repairs. Additionally, 56 percent of stations lack exhaust emission control and are not properly equipped with cancer-preventing systems. The survey also finds that many fire and EMS stations across the country have no backup power, have outdated ventilation systems and mold, or even lack crew quarters for female personnel.
“Our fire fighters deserve the best possible facilities so they can be ready with everything they need to spring into action when duty calls. Yet nearly half of the fire stations across America require major repairs – with some even posing serious health hazards to the men and women who protect our communities. This bipartisan bill will unlock more funding to ensure our fire and EMS heroes have modern, safe, and mission-ready facilities,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“Those who serve as fire fighters throughout Alaska not only deserve functional facilities – but need them – to help them respond quickly and safely to emergencies. Unfortunately, many fire stations in our state are in dire need of repair and updating—which is why I’m joining my colleagues in this bipartisan measure, the FIRE STATION Act, to invest in our fire stations and to support the people that are always there for our communities when we need them most,” said Senator Murkowski.
“The FIRE STATION Act is a smart investment in enhancing public safety, reducing response times, improving facilities, and ensuring the health and well-being of our firefighters,” said Senator Reed. “This bipartisan bill would help cities and towns with outdated fire stations upgrade their facilities or build new ones to guarantee the health our firefighters and better serve the community.”
“Firefighters and EMS personnel put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe. They deserve the best possible resources and facilities to carry out their vital work,” said Congressman Pascrell. “Our Fire Station Act will provide critical funding to help modernize fire and EMS department facilities across the nation, ensuring that our first responders have the tools they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.”
This legislation is endorsed by the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI), and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
“The FIRE STATION Act will provide much-needed funds to help fire and EMS departments invest in necessary facilities upgrades,” said Steve Hirsch, Chairman of the National Volunteer Fire Council.
“Our nation’s fire and emergency services personnel work tirelessly to protect their communities. We must ensure that the facilities where they sleep, eat, and work are safe and code-compliant,” said Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute.
“NFPA’s latest Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service, issued in late 2021, again found significant firefighter health issues at fire stations across the United States. An estimated 44 percent of fire stations are over 40 years old – a statistic that continues to grow. In addition to outdated designs and mold issues, too many stations lack proper ventilation, backup power and facilities for the growing number of female firefighters. We are pleased to support this effort by leaders of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus to invest in improvements in our nation’s fire stations and the health and safety of our nation’s first responders,” said Jim Pauley, President and CEO, National Fire Protection Association.
Under the FIRE STATION Act, funding can be used for:
Building, rebuilding, or renovating fire and EMS department facilities;
Upgrading existing facilities to install exhaust emission control systems;
Installing backup power systems;
Upgrading or replacing environmental control systems, such as HVAC systems;
Removing or remediating mold;
Constructing or modifying living quarters for use by personnel; and
Upgrading fire and EMS stations or building new stations to meet modern building codes and standards as set by the National Fire Protection Association and International Code Council.
In addition to Senators Van Hollen, Murkowski, and Reed, the bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
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