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Hoyer Wins Fight for America’s Firefighters, Local Depts.


Homeland Security Bill Increases Funds for Fire Grants and SAFER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, September 29, 2006

WASHINGTON DC - Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, announced that the House of Representatives today passed the Fiscal Year 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations conference report which increased funding for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Firefighters (SAFER) and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Programs.

In May, the House adopted a Hoyer amendment that increased the funding for these programs to $651 million -- $541 million for Fire Grants and $110 million for SAFER.

The conference report fared even better—increasing the funding for these programs to $662 million—$547 million for Fire Grants and $115 million for SAFER. That is $368.5 million above the level requested by the President and $122 million over the original House bill (before passage of the Hoyer amendment).

“From the very beginning, I fought for these much needed increases to both the Fire Grant and SAFER programs,” Hoyer said. “The 5th anniversary of the September 11th attacks was a stark reminder of our obligation to ensure that our nation’s firefighters have the resources necessary to guarantee their own safety – and the safety of our communities.”

President Bush’s budget proposed eliminating funding for the SAFER Grant Program, which helps departments hire new firefighters, recruit and retain volunteer firefighters, and provide relief to the thousands of local fire stations across the country that are currently operating short of staff. Furthermore, it proposed to fund the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program at only one third the level appropriated in Fiscal Year 2004 and 2005.

“We ask far too many of our firefighters to risk their lives in our defense every day, too often with insufficient staffing, inadequate training and obsolete equipment,” Hoyer concluded. “I will continue to fight to provide these brave Americans with the resources necessary to perform their jobs as safely and effectively as possible.”

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