WASHINGTON, DC — Communities and the calls their fire stations respond to grow, but some facilities are outdated and need upgrades to better serve communities, needs U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and fellow senators aim to meet nation-wide.
Reed and Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) to introduce bipartisan, bicameral legislation, FIRE STATION Act, to construct and upgrade fire stations across the country.
The Act would 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.
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, according to Reed’s office. Also, 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 The survey also finds that many fire and EMS stations across the country have no backup power, have outdated ventilation systems and mold, or even lack crew quarters for female personnel.
“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 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 “This bipartisan bill would help cities and towns with outdated fire stations upgrade their facilities or build new ones to guarantee the health our firefighters and better serve the community.”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.”
The 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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