Passage of $550 billion spending bill increases Homeland Security grants
The $550 billion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress on Dec. 19 includes more than $145 million in increases over last year for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants available to fire departments, according to the Fairfax, Va.-based International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). It also includes $2.8 billion for preventing and fighting wildfires.
President Bush signed the bill on Thursday to establish funding levels for 2008. Grant programs seeing an increase over 2007 include the DHS’ SAFER grant program (a $75 million increase), the FIRE grant program ($13 million), the Urban Area Security Initiative ($50 million) and Urban Search and Rescue Teams ($7.5 million).
The $2.8 billion in wildfire prevention money includes $300 million for emergency funding and $6 million for the Rural Fire Assistance program at the U.S. Department of the Interior. “These are very positive numbers, especially considering the president’s intent to hold the line against spending,” says IAFC President Chief Steven Westermann.
More details are available at www.iafc.org.