WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) issued the statement below after the Senate passed the Fire Grants and Safety Act, bipartisan legislation to continue providing federal funding for the Assistance for Firefighters Grant and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant programs.
“Our communities are strongest and safest when local fire departments have the resources to hire trained firefighters and pay for critical equipment. That’s why I worked to get the bipartisan Fire Grants and Safety Act passed through the Senate. This bipartisan legislation will provide continued funding for two federal grant programs that fire departments across Minnesota rely on, ensuring that local fire departments have everything they need to do their lifesaving work.”
The Assistance for Firefighters Grant program helps firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources. Since 2015, fire departments in Minnesota have received over $50 million in Assistance to Firefighter Grants.
The SAFER Grants program provides direct funding to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to increase or maintain the number of trained, "front line" firefighters and enhance their capacity to comply with staffing, response, and operational standards. Since 2015, fire departments across Minnesota have received over $31 million in SAFER grants.
Klobuchar has long led efforts to support firefighters and first responders. Last month, she introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) to support firefighters diagnosed with cancer due to their service. The Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act would expand access to federal support for the families of firefighters who pass away from cancer caused by carcinogenic exposure during their service. The bill would also extend disability benefits in cases where they become permanently and totally disabled due to cancer.
Klobuchar also worked to pass the bipartisan Protecting America’s First Responders Act, which was signed into law in 2021. This legislation improves the PSOB program by allowing benefit amounts to be calculated based on the date of the award and account for cost of living increases.
In 2018, Klobuchar also co-led bipartisan legislation to create a national cancer registry for firefighters diagnosed with the deadly disease was signed into law. The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor and study the relationship between career-long exposure to dangerous fumes and toxins and the incidence of cancer in firefighters.