NSDC assembled 24 water and fire protection district leaders from nine states to examine the infrastructure gaps and to formally recommend steps to enhance fire suppression and mitigate fire disaster in communities. The group recommends that Congress:
- Establish pilot, stand-alone cost share grant programs under FEMA to directly aid all types of local governments to address infrastructure gaps for fire suppression needs.
- Provide enhanced technical assistance for local agencies seeking funding opportunities for water and fire infrastructure.
- Make additional appropriations and provide greater flexibility for FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program.
- Direct a FEMA administrative review of how Agency-approved local disaster mitigation plans are developed to ensure all agencies with eligible mitigation projects have an opportunity to participate.
The working group also offered recommendations to their trade associations and other organizations representing water and fire protection agencies to assist their members with these hardships as well. They recommend that organizations:
- Facilitate communication and collaboration among fire protection and water suppliers.
- Establish scholarship-style funding opportunities for agencies needing assistance to apply for grant and financing programs.
- Form relationships with reliable grant writing partners to recommend agencies’ use.