Across the nation, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) organizations are engaged in community-wide efforts to respond to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) emergency. Because of this, local municipalities are seeing significant negative impact on organizational and community budgets. In response, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) outlined multiple funding streams used to reimburse fire and EMS departments for the costs of their operations:
- $100 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to reimburse eligible healthcare providers for healthcare expenses or lost revenue directly attributable to the coronavirus. Funding could go to public entities; providers enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, and other for-profit and nonprofit entities that provide diagnoses, testing or care for individuals with COVID-19. The IAFC will follow up with the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response to ensure that fire departments can apply for these funds.)
- $45 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund to reimburse activities such as medical response, procurement of PPE National Guard deployment, coordination of logistics, implementation of safety measures, and provision of community services. According to FEMA, these funds will cover overtime and backfill costs; the costs of supplies, such as disinfectants, medical supplies and PPE; and apparatus usage. (The federal government will cover 75% of these costs.) The IAFC recommends that fire chiefs consult the guidance from U.S. Fire Administrator Chief Keith Bryant and FEMA’s new sheet on FEMA’s Simplified Public Assistance Application. In addition, they should consult with their state emergency managers to begin the process of being reimbursed.
- $100 million for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program for PPE, supplies and reimbursements. This funding is specific to COVID-19 PPE, supplies, etc. The IAFC has contacted FEMA to determine when this special application period will take place.
- $100 million for Emergency Management Performance grants for emergency preparedness – a grant program run by FEMA. The IAFC will provide more information in the future about applying for these grants.
- $7 million for the U.S. Forest Service’s Wildland Fire Management account to provide PPE and baseline testing for wildland firefighters. This funding will be spent at the discretion of the chief of the USFS, and it is expected to be used for USDA’s wildland firefighting operations.