Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to Senate amended (07/28/2010)

Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2010 - (Sec. 2) Modifies various definitions in the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974, including changing the title of the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from Director to the current title Administrator.

(Sec. 3) Authorizes the Administrator to award assistance to firefighters grants on a competitive basis to fire departments to protect the public and firefighting personnel against fire, fire-related, and other hazards, and to award grants to nonaffiliated emergency medical service (EMS) organizations and to state fire training academies. Specifies maximum grant amounts for fire departments serving communities of various sizes, increasing the caps on these grants, particularly for departments that serve larger communities. Sets forth permissible uses for such grants.

Authorizes the Administrator to award fire prevention and safety grants on a competitive basis to fire departments and to national, state, local, tribal, and nonprofit organizations other than fire departments that are recognized for their experience and expertise in fire prevention or fire safety, and to support joint programs between national fire service organizations and institutions of higher education, including the establishment of fire safety research centers. Raises the limit for a grant to $1.5 million for a fiscal year. Sets forth permissible uses of such grants.

Directs the Administrator, in awarding grants, to: (1) consider specified factors, including the degree to which an award will reduce risks associated with fire-related and other hazards; (2) ensure that career, volunteer, and combination fire departments each receive at least 25% of available grant funds; and (3) take actions to prevent the unnecessary duplication of grant awards received through other federal programs.

Requires that not less than 3.5% of available grant funds be awarded for EMS, not more than 2% be awarded for nonaffiliated EMS organizations, not less than 10% be awarded for fire prevention and safety grants, not more than 3% be awarded to state fire training academies, and not more than 25% be used to assist in the purchase of vehicles.

Requires applicants for assistance to firefighters grants to match grant awards with non-federal amounts equal to at least 15% of the grant award, except that fire departments that serve communities between 20,000 and 50,000 people would be required to provide a match of 10% and departments that serve communities with 20,000 people or fewer would be required to provide a 5% match. Requires a 5% match for fire prevention and safety grant applicants. Requires applicants to maintain their related expenditures at not less than 80% of the average amount of such expenditures in the 2 fiscal years prior to receiving the grant. Authorizes the Administrator to waive or reduce these requirements in cases of demonstrated economic hardship. Requires the Administrator to publish guidelines for determining what constitutes economic hardship.

Directs the Administrator, each fiscal year before awarding grants, to publish guidelines in the Federal Register describing the grant application process and the criteria that will be used for selecting grant recipients. Requires the Administrator to convene a meeting of qualified members of national fire service and EMS organizations each fiscal year to obtain recommendations regarding the criteria for awarding grants and for administrative changes to the grant programs.

Allows the nonprofit Alaska Village Initiatives to apply for and receive a grant or other assistance on behalf of Alaska Native villages.

Requires grant applicants seeking funding for training that does not meet or exceed applicable national voluntary consensus standards to submit an explanation to the Administrator as to why that training better serves the needs of the applicant than training that meets or exceeds such standards.

Authorizes the Administrator to audit grant recipients.

Directs the Administrator to: (1) develop and implement a performance assessment system, including quantifiable performance metrics, to evaluate the extent to which grants awarded are furthering the purposes of this Act; and (2) report to the House Committee on Science and Technology and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (relevant congressional committees) by September 30, 2011, and each year thereafter through 2015, on the performance assessment system developed and evaluating the effectiveness of the grants awarded.

Authorizes appropriations for FY2011-FY2015 and provides for a cost-of-living adjustment to such amounts. Limits administrative expenses to not more than 5% of appropriated amounts. Prohibits the use of appropriated amounts under this section for any congressionally directed spending item (earmark).

(Sec. 4) Reduces the term of grants for the hiring of new, additional firefighters (SAFER program). Limits: (1) the federal portion of costs of hiring firefighters to 75% each fiscal year; and (2) the amount of funding provided in any fiscal year for hiring a firefighter to 75% of the usual annual cost of a first-year firefighter. Authorizes the Administrator to waive or reduce retention and cost requirements in cases of demonstrated economic hardship. Directs the Administrator to establish and publish guidelines for determining what constitutes an economic hardship.

Directs the Administrator to: (1) establish a performance assessment system, including quantifiable performance metrics, to determine whether the grants awarded are furthering the purposes of this section; and (2) report to Congress by September 30, 2014, on the effectiveness of SAFER grants in meeting program objectives.

Authorizes appropriations for FY2011-FY2015 and provides for a cost-of-living adjustment to such amounts. Prohibits the Administrator from using more than 5% of appropriated amounts for administrative expenses. Prohibits the use of appropriated amounts under this section for any congressionally directed spending item.

(Sec. 5) Terminates, on October 1, 2015, amendments made by this Act to the assistance to firefighters and fire prevention and safety grant programs. Reinstates on that date provisions of the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974 in effect prior to enactment of this Act.

(Sec. 6) Directs the Comptroller General, by September 30, 2014, to report on the effect of this Act, including: (1) the effect on the effectiveness, relative allocation, accountability, and administration of grants awarded; and (2) an evaluation of the extent to which the changes made by the Act have enabled grant recipients to mitigate hazards more effectively.