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Local public safety officials pushing to renew a federal public safety grant program

Firefighter jackets lined up on a rack.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Public safety departments across Michigan are waiting to see if Congress votes to renew a grant program that has brought tens of millions of dollars to the state.

Departments have used Staffing For Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or "SAFER," program grants to buy equipment and hire personnel.

Thomas Raines, Saginaw’s Fire Chief, said his department has received more than $5 million through the SAFER program.

“These grants have been a lifeline for the city and other cities like Saginaw,” said Raines, “Without these grants, there just wouldn’t be able to provide the best service.”

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) said the program does have bipartisan support. Peters’ bill would increase the authorization for the U.S. Fire Administration by about $20 million, while maintaining the authorized funding level for SAFER and AFG at $750 million for each of the next 7 years.

“We were able to pass this legislation last year out of my committee unanimously,” Peters told reporters gathered at a Saginaw fire station Monday, “But it happened later in the year ... (and) we weren’t able to get it over the finish line.”

Peters is confident Congress will vote this year to extend the SAFER program through 2030.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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