Tester Supports Legislation to Boost Montana Firefighting Capacity

Fire Station Construction Grant Act to support building, maintaining, and updating of fire stations

As the Co-Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today cosponsored the Fire Station Construction Grant Act, which would authorize up to $1 billion in fire station construction grants to build, maintain, or update fire stations across the United States.

“Montana’s firefighters are often our first line of defense when disaster strikes, and it’s critical that they have the resources they need to keep us safe” said Tester. “Investing in our first responders will make us more safe today, and will allow us to stay prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. I’m proud to stand with Montana’s firefighters, and look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this legislation passed through the Senate and signed into law.”

“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 $1 billion 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. Grant awards would be limited to $7.5 million per project, and 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).

As Co-Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, Tester has long been a champion for Montana’s firefighters. He recently secured pay raises for federal wildland firefighters through his bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. His First Responders Fair RETIRE Act, which will help federal firefighters, law enforcement officers, Customs and Border Protection officials, and other federal employees receive their full retirement benefits if hurt while on duty, also recently unanimously passed the House of Representatives and the Senate.

As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Tester is a champion for both the SAFER and Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) programs. He was the only member of the member of the Montana delegation to support the 2022 government funding bill, which included $360 million for each program. In Fiscal Year 2021, fire department across Montana received over $2.3 million in AFG and SAFER grants to help fire departments improve safety, purchase vehicles, and increase recruitment and retention of firefighters.