Summary: S.550 — 112th Congress (2011-2012)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to Senate with amendment(s) (06/29/2011)

Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2011 - (Sec. 2) Amends the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974 (Act) to modify various definitions in such Act, including changing the title of the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from Director to Administrator (the current title).

(Sec. 3) Modifies provisions of the Act authorizing the Administrator to award Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG grants) and Fire Prevention & Safety Grants (FP&S grants).

Sets forth new terms and conditions for awarding AFG and FP&S grants, including limits on grant amounts based upon the population of a jurisdiction receiving grants and permissible uses of grant funds. Prohibits any grant recipient from receiving more than 1% of the total available grant funding.

Directs the Administrator to appoint fire service personnel and personnel from nonaffiliated emergency medical service (EMS) organizations to conduct peer reviews of grant applications. Sets forth criteria for prioritizing and allocating grant awards based upon the degree to which an award will reduce deaths, injuries, and property damage. Establishes funding limits for emergency medical services, nonaffiliated EMS organizations, FP&S grants, state fire training academies, and for purchasing fire fighting vehicles.

Sets forth matching fund requirements for AFG and FP&S grants.

Requires the Administrator to: (1) publish guidelines in the Federal Register describing the grant application process and the criteria for selecting grant recipients, and (2) convene a meeting of qualified members of national fire service and EMS organizations to obtain recommendations on the criteria for awarding grants.

Authorizes the Administrator to audit grant recipients to ensure that grant amounts are expended for the intended purposes. Directs the Administrator to develop and implement a performance assessment system, including quantifiable metrics, to evaluate the effectiveness of grants. Requires grant recipients to submit annual reports to the Administrator describing their use of grant funds. Requires the Administrator to submit annual reports through 2016 to Congress evaluating the effectiveness of AFG and FP&S grants awarded under this Act.

Authorizes appropriations through FY2016.

Terminates the authority for making AFG and FP&S grants on October 1, 2016.

(Sec. 4) Amends Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program provisions to: (1) reduce the term of SAFER grants from four to three years; (2) limit to 75% the portion of the cost of hiring firefighters provided by a grant in any fiscal year; and (3) allow a waiver, based upon economic hardship, of certain firefighter hiring and cost requirements. Directs the Administrator to establish a performance assessment system, including quantifiable performance metrics, to evaluate the effectiveness of SAFER grants. Requires the Administrator to report to specified congressional committees by September 30, 2015, on the effectiveness of the SAFER grant program in meeting its objectives. Authorizes appropriations through FY2016.

Terminates the authority to award SAFER grants and provide technical assistance on October 1, 2016.

(Sec. 5) Directs the Comptroller General to report by September 30, 2015, on the effect of this Act, including: (1) an assessment of this Act's effect on the effectiveness, relative allocation, accountability, and administration of grants awarded under the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974; and (2) an evaluation of the extent to which the changes made by this Act have enabled recipients to mitigate fire, fire-related, and other hazards more effectively.

(Sec. 6) Requires the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to report to Congress, within 180 days after the enactment of this Act, on the grant programs administered by the Administrator, including: (1) whether and to what degree such programs provide duplicative or overlapping assistance, (2) the cost of each program, and (3) recommendations for consolidation and elimination of programs to reduce duplication of assistance.