Tester Leads Bipartisan Bill to Support Montana Firefighters

The Fire Station Construction Grant Act will establish a federal grant program to support building and maintaining fire stations

Continuing his efforts to support Montana firefighters and first responders, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today re-introduced his bipartisan Fire Station Construction Grant Act, which would create a federal grant program to build, maintain, and update fire stations across the United States.

“Montana firefighters and first responders put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe,” said Tester. “These brave men and women are often our first line of defense when disaster strikes, and we owe it to them to ensure they have the resources they need when called to action. That’s why I’m proud to team up with folks on both sides of the aisle to stand with Montana firefighters, and I’ll keep fighting to ensure Montana gets these resources to build and maintain our fire stations.”

“I thank Senator Tester for supporting the Fire Station Construction Grant Act,” said Montana State Council of Professional Firefighters and the Montana State Firefighters Associations President George Richards. “This bill will help fire departments across Montana to build and maintain stations in order to ensure that our first responders have safe housing and work places and are ready to respond quickly when called to service.”

Tester’s Fire Station Construction Grant Act would authorize up to $750 million in fire station construction grants administered by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) for modifying, upgrading, and building fire houses and EMS department facilities.

The bill requires that FEMA allocate 25% of the grants for career fire and EMS departments; 25% of the grants for combination fire and EMS departments; 25% of the grants for volunteer fire and EMS departments; and 25% for open competition between the various department types.

Funding could be used to:

  • Upgrade existing facilities or build new stations;
  • Upgrade or install exhaust emission control systems;
  • Install backup power systems;
  • Upgrade or replace environmental control systems;
  • Remove or remediate mold; or
  • Construct or modify living quarters.

Tester’s bill is supported by the Montana Professional Firefighters, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI).

Tester currently serves as Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, and has long been a champion for Montana’s firefighters. This past year, Tester passed his Putting First Responders First Act to clarify current tax code ensuring first responders do not have to pay taxes on injury-related compensation when hurt in the line of duty as part of the 2023 government funding bill. The bill also included $720 million for Assistance to Firefighter and SAFER grants to help fire departments purchase equipment and hire additional firefighters. Tester was the only member of the delegation to support the bill. 

Last year Tester also secured pay raises for federal wildland firefighters through his bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.