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Bill Would Provide $1B To Build, Improve Fire Stations

A new bipartisan Fire Station Construction Grants Act, which will provide $1 billion to build and improve fire and EMS stations across the Central Valley, is under consideration in Congress. A 2019 study from the National Fire Prevention Association found that 43 percent of fire stations are more than 40 years old and many lack critical infrastructure like exhaust systems and backup power to keep firefighters safe. With this legislation, fire departments in the Central Valley would be eligible for a grant of up to $7.5 million each to build or repair their fire stations.

“We’ve underinvested in our fire departments for far too long here in the Valley and we pay the price every time a couple of sparks turn into a thousand-acre mega-fire,” said Rep. Josh Harder in announcing his support of the legislation. “This bill opens up new funds for our fire departments to build and repair their fire stations and make sure they’re ready, night or day, when a fire starts. We have Republicans and Democrats on board because no matter who you are or who you voted for, our firefighters show up to keep you safe.”

The bipartisan Fire Station Construction Grants Act would authorize $1 billion in fire station construction grants administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for modifying, upgrading, and building fire and EMS department facilities, including local fire and EMS stations and fire training facilities. Specifically, grant funding can be used to:

• Build, rebuild, or renovate fire and EMS department facilities.

• Upgrade existing facilities to install exhaust emission control systems; install backup power systems; upgrade or replace environmental control systems, such as HVAC systems; remove or remediate mold; and construct or modify living quarters.

• Upgrade fire and EMS stations or build new stations to meet modern building codes and standards as set by the National Fire Protection Association and International Code Council.

The legislation requires that FEMA allocate 25 percent of the grants for career fire and EMS departments, 25 percent of the grants for combination fire and EMS departments, and 25 percent of the grants for volunteer fire and EMS departments. The remaining 25 percent would be open to competition between the various department types. Grantees must meet prevailing wage and labor standards requirements under the Davis-Bacon Act, and procurement requirements under the Buy American Act.

The legislation has been endorsed by the 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).