President Trump signed an act into law Thursday which will allow fire departments to use federal money to hire full-time staff.
Previously, fire departments were barred from using federal money to hire full-time staff.
US Democratic Senator Gary Peters, who co-authored the bill, said that didn’t make much sense.
“Right now under grants for whatever reason, you were not able to hire part-time or paid on-call firefighters and put them into a full-time status. That made no sense. These are folks that had been trained, usually received significant training at the expense of taxpayers. Not being able to move them into full-time status did not make sense.”
Senator Peters said the bill is particularly important for smaller, rural fire departments.
“This is definitely very important for smaller departments in rural areas. Most fire departments rely on part-time firefighters and paid on call. But fire departments also need to have full-time people in charge of those departments and they will often apply for grants to help pay for that.”
Senator Peters co-authored the law with Republican Senator Susan Collins. He said the legislation quickly became law because of its bipartisan appeal.
The law takes effect in early Spring when the grant season for this year begins.