Skip to content

SIGNED INTO LAW: Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen and Modernize Fire Departments in New Hampshire and Across the Country

NH Fire Department Leaders Applaud Passage of Hassan-Backed Law that Funds Training and Equipment for NH Fire Fighters

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden signed into law the bipartisan Fire Grants and Safety Act, which U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) helped advance through the Senate Homeland Security Committee. The bipartisan legislation would reauthorize the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, and the United States Fire Administration (USFA). The programs were set to expire this year and are used by fire departments in New Hampshire and across the country to address staffing needs, purchase equipment, develop fire training and education programs, and improve emergency medical services. Since 2015, New Hampshire fire departments, state fire training academies, and emergency medical service organizations have received more than $28 million in funding from AFG grants and more than $15 million in funding from SAFER grants.

“Fire fighters fearlessly risk their lives to help keep our communities safe and it is paramount that they have the resources that they need to do their jobs safely and effectively,” Senator Hassan said. “I am glad that President Biden signed this important legislation into law so that we can support fire departments in New Hampshire and across the country, provide them with cutting edge equipment, and give fire fighters every chance for success in their critical missions.”

New Hampshire fire department leaders applauded the legislation.

“On behalf of the New Hampshire Fire Service, I would like to extend our thanks to Senator Hassan for her continued support for public safety. Working to fund these critical programs enhances the capabilities of many fire departments across our state. In a time of increased budget constraints at the local level these programs provide equipment, training and staffing that may otherwise be unavailable,” said Sean P. Toomey, P.E., NH State Fire Marshal.

Chief David Emanuel of Durham, NH Fire Rescue and President of the New Hampshire Association of Fire Chiefs agreed with his counterparts: “The SAFER and AFG grants have been an invaluable tool for New Hampshire departments in providing essential equipment and personnel as we continue to address the ever-changing needs of our constituents while coping with decreased funding and availability. We thank Senator Hassan and all of our delegation for their support of these critical programs.”

“The AFG and SAFER grant programs have been a critical resource for my fire department over the years, allowing us to apply for, and receive federal funding to adequately staff and train our firefighters, replace outdated gear with modern, safer equivalents and is allowing the Berlin Fire Dept. to replace a fire engine that has been in service since the late 1970’s. The Fire Grants and Safety Act would ensure that we have access to funding that will ensure our department can safely and effectively respond to a variety of emergency situations in New Hampshire’s Northernmost city. As we continue to dig out from the mill closures which devastated our area these grants are a vital part of maintaining our department and I thank Sen. Hassan for her steadfast commitment to ensuring these federal programs are responsive to the needs of our local communities,” said James Watkins, Fire Chief for Berlin Fire Department.

“I am glad that Senator Hassan helped advance a bipartisan bill to extend federal grant programs for local fire departments. Supporting these programs proves that staffing, safety, and the wellbeing of firefighters is a priority to Senator Hassan and to those of us who receive these grants, to buy the critical equipment needed to do our jobs and protect the public. The Assistance to Firefighters Grants funding meant we could purchase vitally important breathing apparatus sooner, making it safer for our firefighters and the community we serve here in Portsmouth,” said Bill McQuillen, Fire Chief for Portsmouth Fire Department.

Fire departments in New Hampshire and across the country use these federal programs to recruit and retain additional personnel, as well as buy up-to-date vehicles and equipment such as breathing air compressors, hoses, nozzles, and more. Fire stations also use the programs to fund safety training and technical rescue training, as well as health screenings for firefighters. The Fire Grants and Safety Act reauthorizes SAFER, AFG, and the USFA until 2028.

Senator Hassan has led efforts to support New Hampshire fire fighters. She helped advance the bipartisan bill to extend these grant programs through the Senate Homeland Security Committee and the Senate. Senator Hassan has helped ensure that New Hampshire fire departments benefit from this program; for instance, Senator Hassan helped secure a grant for Errol Fire Department to obtain a tanker vehicle and a grant for the Berlin Fire Department in 2022 to replace its fire engine that had been in service since 1979. Since 2015, New Hampshire fire departments, state fire training academies, and emergency medical service organizations have received more than $28 million in funding from AFG grants and more than $15 million in funding from SAFER grants.