newport fire department

Senator Reed Helps Pass Bill to Extend Federal Support for Local Firefighters

In a move to aid fire departments in Rhode Island and across the nation, the U.S. Senate has passed the Fire Grants and Safety Act. The legislation now awaits President Joe Biden’s signature to become law.

The bill, strongly supported by U.S. Senator Jack Reed, aims to extend crucial federal programs that provide financial support to local fire departments. Specifically, it reauthorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) through 2028. These programs were set to expire this year and are essential for addressing staffing needs, purchasing equipment, developing training and education programs, and improving emergency medical services.

“Rhode Island’s fire departments play an essential role in supporting our communities, enhancing public safety, and saving lives. Federal AFG and SAFER grants help them do their jobs more effectively and improve public safety. I am pleased that Congress was able to come together on a bipartisan basis to pass this bill and help local fire departments continue to meet their equipment, training, and staffing needs,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.

For fiscal year 2024, Congress appropriated $648 million for the AFG and SAFER programs. The AFG grants are vital for helping firefighters and first responders obtain necessary equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards. SAFER grants assist in hiring frontline firefighters and help local fire departments comply with staffing, response, and operational standards set by the National Fire Protection Association.

Over the past two years, Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders across the state have received $27.8 million in federal funding through AFG and SAFER grants. Among the beneficiaries are fire departments in Cranston, Cumberland, East Greenwich, Narragansett, Newport, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Smithfield, West Warwick, Woonsocket, and more.

Senator Reed has been instrumental in securing these funds, leading annual fire grant workshops for fire departments across Rhode Island to help them compete for federal funds. He has visited numerous fire stations in the state, witnessing firsthand the positive impact of these federal resources.

Additionally, the bill reauthorizes $95 million for the USFA, marking a nearly $20 million increase from current authorized levels, and extends the authorization for the SAFER and AFG programs through fiscal year 2028.

With this legislative victory, Rhode Island fire departments are poised to continue enhancing their capabilities and ensuring the safety of their communities.




Like Newport Buzz? We depend on the generosity of readers like you who support us, to help with our mission to keep you informed and entertained with local, independent news and content. We truly appreciate your trust and support!