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SAFER Update
Posted On: Feb 23, 2011

Proposed Budget Cuts in House will Jeopardize Public 

Safety and Put Fire Fighters at Risk 

 

Washington, DC – The International Association of Fire Fighters today urged members of Congress to 

reject a proposal to slash funding for two crucial federal programs that fund public safety. 

 

The House Appropriations Committee yesterday proposed cutting the FIRE Act and Staffing for 

Adequate Fire and Emergency Response [SAFER] grant program by a combined $510 million, an 

unprecedented cut that would place the public and fire fighters in danger by reducing the resources of 

the nation’s fire departments. 

 

“We understand the need to save money, but these misguided cuts will cost lives. This budget proposal 

isn’t a wise investment, it’s a recipe for disaster,” IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger said. 

 

The budget proposal includes eliminating the $420 million SAFER program. SAFER grants in fiscal 

2009 allowed fire departments throughout the nation to rehire thousands of fire fighters who were laid 

off when municipalities felt the brunt of the recession and had to cut programs and lay off workers to 

balance budgets. 

 

SAFER has been an extraordinary safety net for those communities. It has also been a successful jobs 

program, allowing communities to preserve public safety by ensuring that fire departments have an 

adequate number of fire fighters. 

 

“Eliminating SAFER isn’t just bad for the fire fighters who will lose their jobs if the program is 

eliminated, it’s bad for the towns and cities that rely on the grants for the fire fighters they wouldn’t 

have otherwise because the recession forced them to cut back. SAFER grants create jobs and boost 

public safety,” Schaitberger said. “Unemployment remains high, and Congress should leave SAFER 

intact if it is serious about creating jobs.” 

 

The House Appropriations Committee also has proposed cutting $90 million from the FIRE Act, 

reducing that program from $390 million to $300 million. FIRE Act grants allow communities to 

purchase life-saving safety equipment – from personal protective gear to breathing apparatus – for fire 

fighters. 

 

“Even in the worst of times the safety and security of Americans and the fire fighters sworn to protect 

them must be among our highest priorities,” Schaitberger said. “Not only is it vital for government to 

fund a strong military to defend our interests across the globe, we must also invest in the fire fighters 

and paramedics who are on the frontlines here at home.” 

 

The International Association of Fire Fighters represents more than 298,000 full-time professional fire fighters and 

paramedics and is the leading advocate for the health and safety of first responders. 


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