Skip to content

TO THE PRESIDENT’S DESK: Heinrich Bill to Extend Federal Programs to Support Local Fire Departments Passes Senate

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) applauded Senate passage of his bipartisan Fire Grants and Safety Act, legislation to extend federal programs that help support local fire departments in New Mexico and across the country. The bill would reauthorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program through 2030 and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) through 2028.  

The programs are set to expire this year and are used by fire departments in New Mexico to address staffing needs, purchase equipment, develop fire training and education programs, and improve emergency medical services. The legislation now heads to President Biden’s desk. 

“Now more than ever, we need to get New Mexico’s firefighters and first responders the support needed to combat fires and keep our communities safe,” said Heinrich. “As our Fire Grants and Safety Act heads to President Biden’s desk, I will keep working to deliver all of the resources and tools our local fire and rescue departments need.”  

Local fire departments use the SAFER and AFG programs to recruit and retain additional personnel, as well as purchase up-to-date vehicles and equipment such as breathing air compressors, hoses, nozzles, and more. Fire stations also utilize these programs to provide health screenings for firefighters and first responders and to fund important safety, technical rescue, and emergency medical training. The U.S. Fire Administration is the lead federal agency for fire data collection, public fire education, fire research, and fire service training. 

The Fire Grants and Safety Act authorizes $95 million for USFA – a nearly $20 million increase from current levels, and maintains currently authorized levels of funding for the SAFER and AFG programs.  


Heinrich has been a leader in the effort to deliver federal funding to local fire departments through the Fire Grants and Safety Act.  

In 2023, Heinrich sat down with leaders of the Santa Fe County Fire Department and met with first responders at Bernalillo County Fire Department Station 33 to hear how federal investments from the Fire Grants and Safety Act have made a difference and why it vital for New Mexico. 

Since 2015, the SAFER and AFG programs have delivered over $15.3 million to local fire departments all across New Mexico. 

The SAFER program has provided federal grants to support hiring and recruitment at local fire departments in Bernalillo County, Albuquerque, Otero County, Rio Rancho, Las Cruces, Hobbs, Bernalillo, San Juan County, the Abiquiu Fire Protection District, and the Mayhill Volunteer Fire Department. 

The AFG program has provided federal funds for equipment, operations, and safety to local and volunteer departments in Mesilla Roswell, San Juan County, the New Mexico Firefighters Training Academy, Las Cruces, Sandoval County, Doña Ana County, Otero County, Albuquerque, Valencia County, Santa Fe County, Carlsbad, Gallup, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Silver City, Alamogordo, San Miguel County, the Questa Volunteer Fire Department, Los Alamos County, the Datil Fire District, Angel Fire, the Sierra Bonita Rincon Volunteer Fire Department, and Santo Domingo Fire and EMS. 

Heinrich has also led efforts in the Senate to support the federal wildland firefighting workforce. As part of the Fiscal Year 2024 Interior Appropriations Bill, Heinrich secured an extension of the supplemental ray raise for federal wildland firefighters that he helped to pass as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  

Heinrich is cosponsoring the Wildland Firefighter Paycheck Protection Act, to permanently raise pay for wildland firefighters and introduce a new incident response premium pay to account for the 24/7 nature of the work that wildland firefighters do while they are deployed at qualifying incidents. 

In June 2022, during the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon wildfires, Senator Heinrich led a letter to the Biden Administration urging them to swiftly implement the supplemental pay increase that was included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Less than two weeks later, the Biden Administration announced the rollout of that supplemental pay increase that kept mass resignations within the workforce at bay. However, we are now facing a mass exodus of wildland firefighters from federal agencies if that pay increase is not made permanent.   

The Fire Grants and Safety Act legislation passed by the Senate also included the Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act, a bill that Heinrich cosponsored to reform the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) licensing processes to accelerate the timeline for the development and deployment of next-generation advanced reactors.