Debate over federal funding threatens local fire departments

CHENANGO COUNTY Federal funds that benefit local fire departments may be at risk if lawmakers allow certain funding programs to expire at the end of the month.

Last week, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer called on Congress to renew funding streams to the Department of Homeland security before they expire on Feb. 27. If not, DHS staffers could be furloughed, meaning thousands of grant applications for fire equipment, training, protective gear and other expenses from local fire departments could go into limbo indefinitely.

Schumer argued that any lapse in funding, particularly now during the middle of the application period, would be a blow to local fire departments looking to upgrade equipment to better protect residents and emergency personnel. The cease in funding would affect three federal programs, including the Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG), the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, and the Fire Prevention and Safety grant program.

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