Our firefighters and first responders put their lives on the line to keep us safe. . That’s why I am helping lead the effort to deliver federal funding to them through the Fire Grants and Safety Act. This bipartisan legislation will extend and expand federal programs that help local fire departments address staffing needs, purchase equipment, develop fire training and education programs, and improve emergency medical services.
Our legislation was just passed in the Senate. But if the House doesn’t act to pass our bill, these critical programs will expire.
I sat down with leaders at the Santa Fe County Fire Department last week to hear how past federal investments from these programs have made a difference and why we need to keep up the work.
VIDEO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich visits the Santa Fe County Fire Department to bring attention to the Fire Grants and Safety Act that he is championing in the Senate, April 28, 2023.
Since 2015, two programs—the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program—have delivered over $15.3 million to local fire departments all across New Mexico. The Fire Grants and Safety Act will extend both of these critical grant programs, as well as the United States Fire Administration (USFA), the lead federal agency for fire data collection, public fire education, fire research, and fire service training, through 2030.
GRAPHIC: Local fire departments in New Mexico have received $15.3 million since 2015 from the SAFER and Assistance to Firefighters Grant programs.
For years, New Mexico has faced severe shortages of firefighters – from San Juan County to Santa Fe County, and elsewhere. Over 78% of fire departments in New Mexico are volunteer, and nearly 10% more are mostly volunteer. Since 2015, the SAFER and Assistance to Firefighters Grant programs have provided federal grants in 20 out of our 33 counties.
I am proud to help lead this effort to deliver federal support for the folks who give so much to all of us. Helping our firefighters recruit, train, and equip their work should be a no brainer.