The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is calling on Congress to clear regulatory logjams to get relief money from the CARES Act to firefighters and first responders.
IAFC leaders say legal and regulatory minutiae is preventing funding from the Assistance for Firefighter Grant Program (AFG) from immediately getting to firefighters and EMS workers.
“Firefighters need a hero,” IAFC President Gary Ludwig said. “So do the people they serve. It’s up to Congress to fill that role by solving two crucial COVID-19 problems. One is a classic Washington logjam and the other is ensuring enough money to keep fire/EMS stations open around the country. Our brothers and sisters in law enforcement are already putting to work some of their much needed $850 million from the March CARES Act. At the same time, a significantly smaller pool of money for firefighters to battle COVID-19 is still stuck in Washington. That $100 million isn’t available to fire departments and likely won’t be for another month or two. Only Congress can fix this.”
Also, IAFC is calling on Congress to increase relief funds for firefighters, saying the $100 million is not enough to prevent furloughs, layoffs, and firehouse closings.
“The pandemic is forcing fire departments to pay for more personal protective equipment, decontamination supplies, and additional overtime to cover shifts of ill and quarantined firefighters,” Ludwig said. “Stay at home orders mean less tax money to run fire departments. They also stop fundraising activities by volunteer firefighters. If Congress does not act, there will soon be fewer heroes on the front lines protecting our communities.”