Tester champions flexibility for Montana fire departments

Senator’s bipartisan measure helps small communities, cuts through red tape

(U.S. SENATE) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced that Montana fire departments are one step closer to being able to hire or retain employees without burdensome federal regulations.

Tester’s bipartisan amendment, included in the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Act, waives difficult restrictions on firefighter grants used to hire firefighters or keep them on the job.  Currently, many of Montana’s rural fire departments do not apply for these critical resources because of the restrictions. 

“Political meddling created this issue in the first place,” Tester said.  “We have to let Montana fire departments do their important jobs as they know best and that includes letting them hire staff and manage their budget according to their needs.  Montana’s firefighters deserve our strong support.”

Many small communities across Montana are struggling to provide emergency services without raising taxes or laying off firefighters.  The increased flexibility provided by Tester’s measure will help communities who receive these grants to avoid these difficult decisions.

The International Association of Fire Fighters and the Montana State Fireman’s Association support Tester’s measure.

“The Montana State Firemen’s Association appreciates Senator Tester’s dedication and determination toward fixing this frustrating issue,” said Doug Neil, the association’s Political Director.  “Jon’s measure will allow fire departments and cities across Montana to hire the firefighters they need to be prepared for and respond to our state’s emergency needs.”

Tester’s measure awaits consideration by the full Senate.