Sarbanes, Maryland Congressional Delegation Call on Trump Administration to Increase Federal Support for Firefighters

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and the Maryland Congressional Delegation today urged the Trump Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter T. Gaynor to waive all state and local cost-share requirements for federal firefighting assistance through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) and Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG).

Local firefighters – together with emergency health personnel – are on the frontlines in every Maryland community, responding to COVID-19 patients and keeping our cities and towns safe.

“State and local governments now responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent economic downturn are faced with historically unprecedented revenue shortfalls,” the lawmakers wrote. “Budgets will undoubtedly come under stress and sacrifices may have to be made. But we cannot afford to cut corners on emergency preparedness to save costs.”

The SAFER grant program enhances the ability of fire departments around the country to attain and maintain 24-hour staffing. The AFG program also provides grants directly to fire departments, nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Services organizations and state fire training academies to enhance their ability to protect the health and safety of the public, as well as that of first-responder personnel. Typically, state and local governments are required to contribute 25 percent of awards made through these programs, which provide funds directly to local fire departments.

The Delegation has strongly supported state and local requests for assistance in responding to COVID-19. On April 10, Delegation Members wrote to President Trump, urging him to waive all cost-sharing requirements for assistance under the Emergency Declaration and related Major Disaster Declarations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.