Congress at the end of September passed the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2009 as part of a year-end spending package. The legislation, which has been sent to the president, would provide $40 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); a 6 percent increase above FY 2008, and about 6 percent above the president’s budget request.
The legislation contains encouraging funding levels for the fire service, with increases in many critical programs, including:
- A $5 million increase for FIRE grants.
- A $20 million increase for SAFER grants.
- A $1.67 million increase for the U.S. Fire Administration.
- The restoration of grant programs that saw dramatic cuts in the president’s proposed budget.
The legislation also includes a $22.9 billion disaster relief package for states affected by hurricanes, flooding and wildfires, including $910 million for wildland firefighting programs at the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Programs not related to national security will be funded at last year’s levels through a continuing resolution lasting until March 6, 2009.
“The IAFC (International Association of Fire Chiefs) is pleased that Congress has again demonstrated its commitment to supporting the needs of America’s fire and emergency medical services,” said Chief Larry Grorud, IAFC president. “The appropriated amounts for programs vital to the fire service come as welcome developments, particularly during a time of fiscal constraint, and we look forward to the president signing this important legislation.”