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The Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009

 Bill Summary and Status

Passed the House on November 18, 2009

Reported (as amended) by the Full Committee on October 21, 2009

Reported (as amended) by the Technology and Innovation Subommittee on October 14, 2009

Introduced in the House on October 13, 2009

Section-by-Section

 Sec.1 (Short Title)

The Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009

Sec. 2
Amendment to Sec. 33 of the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974
 
Assistance Program
 
            AUTHORITY: Allows the Director to make grants on a competitive basis to local fire departments and state fire training academies to protect against fire and fire-related hazards; to provide assistance for fire and fire prevention programs; and to provide assistance to volunteer, non-fire service EMS and rescue organizations.
             
USES: Allows the Director to make grants available for a variety of purposes related to fire fighting and fire safety, including equipment and training.
 
            FIRE PREVENTION AND SAFETY: Sets aside 10 percent of the appropriated funds for fire prevention and safety grants. Such grants may go to local fire departments or other organizations for fire prevention programs, as well as research on fire safety and firefighter health and safety. Such grants may not be above $1,500,000.
 
            APPLICATION: Fire departments or other organizations seeking grants must submit applications that contain information on the financial need of the applicant, the cost-to-benefit ratio of the intended purchase, an agreement to participate in the national fire data collection system, and a list of other sources of Federal funding received by the applicant.
 
            MATCHING REQUIREMENT: Fire departments must match 10 percent of any Federal funds received. Fire departments serving jurisdictions with fewer than 20,000 people, the matching requirement is 5 percent. There is no matching requirement for the Fire Prevention and Safety Grants.
 
            MAINTAINANCE OF EXPENDITURES: Grants may be awarded only if the applicant agrees to maintain its budget for the uses for which they are applying for the grant at, or above, 80 percent of its average for the previous two fiscal years.
 
            ECONOMIC HARDSHIP WAIVER: The Director may waive the matching requirement and the maintenance of expenditure requirement in cases of economic hardship. The Director shall develop the criteria for the waivers in consultation with fire service organizations and organizations representing State and local governments. The criteria for the waivers will be made publicly available.  
 
            VARIETY OF FIRE DEPARTMENT GRANT RECIPIENTS: The grants shall be made to fire departments as follows (if enough qualified applicant apply in each category):
                        25 percent to career fire departments;
                        25 percent to combination fire departments;
                        25 percent to volunteer fire departments;
                        Any remainder not otherwise designated under this bill shall be open for competition among all fire types of departments. The Director shall prioritize those applications from departments representing areas of high population and receiving a high call-volume. 
 
            REPORT TO THE DIRECTOR: Applicants must report to the Director how the assistance was used.
 
            GRANT LIMITATIONS: The maximum allowable grant size a fire department is eligible for will depend on the size of the population that department serves, as follows:
                        A population of 100,000 or less may receive up to $1,000,000
                        A population of 100,000 to 500,000 may receive up to $2,000,000
                        A population of 500,000 to 1,000,000 may receive up to $3,000,000
                        A population of 1,000,000 to 2,500,000 may receive up to $6,000,000
                        A population of 2,500,000 or more may receive up to $9,000,000.
            Not more than 25 percent of the total appropriation may be used to purchase firefighting vehicles. 
            State fire training academies are eligible for no more than three percent of the total appropriation. Grants to State fire training academies shall be no more than $1,000,000. 
            Not less than two percent of the funds appropriated shall go tot volunteer, non-fire service EMS and rescue organizations.
 
            ALASKA NATIVE VILLAGES: Allows Alaska Native Villages to be eligible for grants made under this Act.
 
            ANNUAL MEETING: Requires the Director to convene an annual meeting of fire service organizations to recommend criteria for awarding grants the following fiscal year.
 
            GUIDELINES: Requires the Director to make the grant criteria publicly available. 
           
            PEER-REIVEW: Requires that the grants be subjected to a peer-review process. 
           
            APPLICABILITY OF FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ACT: Exempts the annual meeting and the peer-review process from the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
 
            ACCOUNTING DETERMINIATION: Requires that, for the purposes of receiving assistance under this Act, equipment costs encompass all components of the cost, including design and assembly (if not commercially available)
 
            AUDITS: Requires that grant recipients under the Act submit to audits.
 
            UNIVERSITY FIRE SAFETY RESEARCH CENTERS: Authorizes the Director to make grants to institutions of higher education to establish and operate no more than three university fire safety research centers. The grants are to be used for R&D to reduce fire-related death and injuries among the general public and firefighters. The Director must also convene a workshop of fire safety experts to discuss research needs. The grant awards for fire safety research centers shall be made from the 10 percent allocated to the Fire Safety and Prevention program. 
 
            DEFINITIONS: Definitions provided for Career Fire Department; Combination Fire Departments; Director; Firefighting Personnel; Institution of Higher Education; Volunteer, Non-fire Service EMS and Rescue Organization; and Volunteer Fire Department. 
 
            AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS: Authorizes appropriations of $1,000,000 from 2010 to 2014, of which not more than three percent may be used for program administration purposes by the Director. 
             
Sec. 3
Amendments to Section 34 of the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974.
 
EXPANDED AUTHORITY TO MAKE HIRING GRANTS: Directs the Director to make competitive grants to career, volunteer, and combination fire departments to increase the number of firefighters to a level that enables 24-hour staffing of fire departments. The grants will be used to hire new, additional firefighters and will run for three years. The use of grant funds to hire firefighters in any jurisdiction may not exceed 80% of the total costs of hiring firefighters.
 
RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION: Requires that at least 10% of the total appropriations must be used to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters at volunteer or combination fire departments and organizations that represent the interests of volunteer firefighters.
 
APPLICATIONS: Requires that, at a minimum, applications must detail why the fire department needs federal assistance, how it plans to meet the three year retention requirement, and how it will allow the firefighters to volunteer in their off-time. The applications must also explain how the fire department will work to recruit and hire more minority groups and women, as well as how it will retain newly hired firefighters past the conclusion of the three year grant.
 
LIMITATIONS ON USE OF FUNDS: Requires that the grant funds should represent an increase of, and not supplant, funds provided by state and local governments, or the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Also requires that municipalities and other recipients maintain their budgets for fire-related and emergency response programs at or above 80 percent of their previous three year average. 
 
WAIVER: Allows the Director to waive the following requirements for recipients facing economic hardship: the three year retention requirement of new firefighters hired with grant funds; the maintenance of expenditure requirement; and the “supplement versus supplant” requirement.
 
PERFORMANCE EVALUATION: Allows the Director to request any information considered necessary from grant recipients.
 
SUNSET; REPORTS: The Director’s authority to make grants ends 10 years after the date of enactment; and, not later than six years after the date of enactment, the Director shall submit a report on the effectiveness of the grants and any recommendations for future provisions.
 
REVOCATION OR SUSPENSION OF FUNDING: Allows the Director to revoke or suspend any portion of a grant if a recipient does not comply with all of the requirements at any time.
 
ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS: Allows the Director to audit any grant recipient and provides access to any needed documents in carrying out the audit.
 
DEFINITIONS: Defines: Director; firefighter; and Indian tribe.

 
AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS: Authorizes $1,194,000,000 per year for FY2010 through FY2014 for Section 3.
 
Sec. 4. Study & Report
 
STUDY AND REPORT IN ASSSTANCE TO FIREFIGHTERS GRANT PROGRAM: Directs the United States Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association to conduct a study defining the roles and activities of fire services; the equipment, staffing, and training needed to carry out these roles and activities; the gaps in existing resources required to meet these roles; and the impact of grants. Authorizes $300,000 per year for FY 2010 and FY2011 to conduct the study.
111th Congress