Drafted in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, the new law will enable more fire departments to operate with safe staffing levels and comply with national standards.
Calling a "lack of adequate staffing" the most pressing issue for the union, IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger said, "The inclusion of SAFER in the Department of Defense authorization both acknowledges the problem and provides an avenue to tap federal resources to hire sorely needed fire fighters in departments throughout the nation."
Under the new law, fire departments will be eligible to receive grants to help pay the salary and benefits of hiring new fire fighters over a five-year period. In the first year, the federal government will contribute up to 90 percent of the cost, 80 percent in the second year, 50 percent in the third year, and 30 percent in the fourth. The jurisdiction is then required to pay the full amount for at least one additional year. The total federal funds for each position cannot exceed $100,000 over the five-year period.
The International Association of Fire Fighters is the union for more than 260,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics.