Senate Passes Tester’s Bipartisan Bill to Boost Resources for Montana’s Local Fire Departments

Senator’s Fire Grants and Safety Act cleared the Senate this month, reauthorizes critical funding for local fire departments to bolster staffing and equipment

As part of his continued efforts to support first responders and keep Montana communities safe, U.S. Senator Jon Tester earlier this month passed his bipartisan Fire Grants and Safety Act to help local fire departments access funding for training, personnel, and equipment. Tester’s bill reauthorizes the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) Program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Program – both of which provide resources for fire service agencies to improve staffing and purchase equipment. It now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“Montana firefighters have our backs in some of the most difficult and dangerous situations, and I’ve made it a priority to always have their backs in the Senate,” said Tester. “That’s why I’m proud Congress passed my bipartisan bill to provide critical funding that will help local departments improve staffing and purchase equipment. I’ll always do everything in my power to ensure our firefighters have the resources they need to keep Montana communities safe.”

Tester’s bipartisan bill will reauthorize the AFG and SAFER Programs, as well as increase funding for the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) through 2028. AFG and SAFER are the main sources of federal funding for firefighters and help departments purchase equipment and increase staffing – and both programs were set to expire in September 30, 2024. Both programs backed by Tester are particularly important to small, rural, and volunteer fire departments.

Tester’s bipartisan Fire Grants and Safety Act is supported by Congressional Fire Services Institute, International Association of Fire Fighters, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Volunteer Fire Council, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, International Society of Fire Service Instructors, and National Fire Protection Association.

Tester has consistently supported Montana’s firefighters. Tester currently serves as Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, he also recently secured $648 million for AFG and SAFER in the 2024 government funding bill.

You can read more about Tester’s efforts to support state and federal firefighters HERE.