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President Signs Spending Bill that Doubles FIRE Act Funding

President George W. Bush yesterday signed a 2003 federal spending package that increases the FIRE Act to $750 million.

Although many domestic programs were hit hard in the federal budget, funding for the FIRE Act was more than doubled, up from $360 million allocated last year.

"The American fire service needs all the help it can get," said Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Assocation of Firefighters. "This funding will provide a critical infusion as we work to deal with economic distress and the new responsibilities of homeland security."

With the additional funding, far more grant requests should be approved. FIRE Act grants will be awarded in four general categories:

  • Fire service operations/fire fighter safety
  • Fire prevention
  • Emergency medical services
  • Fire fighting apparatus

Although it is rare when all spending bills are approved by Congress and signed by the president before the beginning of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, the delays over the budget for FY2003, which is almost half over, were particularly long. Neither the House or Senate approved appropriations bills in 2002. To enable the government to function, Congress passed a series of short-term "continuing resolutions" (CRs) to fund the government at last year's levels.

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