Local Fire Departments Prepare for Possible Impacts From DHS Showdown in Congress

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As the congressional showdown over the funding of the Department of Homeland Security continues plays out on Capitol Hill, some municipal governments around the country are watching for how any potential shutdown of the department impacts local fire protection.

In Michigan, for instance, 84 communities receive funding grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is part of DHS. Detroit's fire department receives nearly $26 million from three grants; in the Upper Peninsula town of Ishpeming, the volunteer fire department there receives about $24,000 in federal grant funding.

"This is not a problem yet, although we are studying the issue closely," a spokesman for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan told MLive.com.

The situation in Montana is similar.

According to the Great Falls Tribune:

In 2014, Montana received $4.4 million through the Homeland Security Grant Program and $3.3 million through Emergency Management Performance Grants.

During that same year, Cascade County received $103,633 through the EMPG and Great Falls Fire Rescue received $67,983 through the Homeland Security program, city officials said. The fire department also received $93,000 for the Firefighter Grant Program through DHS.

In Great Falls, daily firefighting operations are not directly dependent on the federal grant funding as that typically goes toward purchasing equipment and training, the newspaper reported.

But while daily fire operations may be immediately impacted by a potential DHS shutdown in some communities, payment of salaries could be disrupted in others.

As the International Business Times reports, around 1,800 firefighters around the nation are paid through FEMA’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant program.

“A lot of communities are starting to become fearful of what’s going to happen with their grants,” Tim Burn, a spokesman for the International Association of Fire Fighters, told IBT.

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