Tester's Bipartisan Bill to Hire More Montana Firefighters Moves to Senate Floor

Senator's Legislation will Reauthorize Critical Grants for Rural Fire Departments

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s bipartisan bill to hire more firefighters and better equip Montana’s rural fire departments today passed unanimously out of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Tester’s bill, the AFG and SAFER Program Reauthorization Act, will reauthorize two grant initiatives, the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER), which will otherwise expire on January 2, 2018.

“When emergency strikes, firefighters must have the equipment, training, and staff they need to respond quickly and safely,” Tester said. “I have seen firsthand the impact these grants have made for fire departments in Missoula, Livingston, Bozeman, and Lewistown, Montana. These resources have saved the lives and property of many Montanans, and that is why we need to reauthorize these critical grant initiatives.”

AFG grants provide financial support to local fire departments to train, equip, and ensure firefighters have adequate safety gear for emergency responses.

SAFER grants provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighters to help increase and maintain the number of trained firefighters in rural communities.

Fire departments in Bozeman, Missoula, Great Falls, Deer Lodge, Billings, Crow, Livingston, Helena, Dixon, Columbia Falls, Kalispell, Butte, Columbus, Florence, Lewistown, DeBorgia, Miles City, Rexford, Emigrant, Culbertson, Whitefish, and others have received AFG or SAFER grants in recent years.

Tester earlier this week introduced the Honoring Hometown Heroes Act, which amends the U.S. flag code to allow the Governor of a state to order the American flag to half-staff in the event that a first responder dies in the line of duty.

Tester’s AFG and SAFER Program Reauthorization Act is cosponsored by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).