Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Wednesday voted to provide local firefighters with the tools and resources they need to prevent and fight fires and keep communities safe.

At a time when many towns and cities are facing budget shortfalls and cuts to basic services, the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act (House Resolution 3791) would invest in crucial firefighter assistance programs that allow local fire departments to provide training, purchase equipment and vehicles, and hire personnel.

“This bill provides critical funding to safeguard our homes, our neighborhoods and — first and foremost — our families,” Capps said. “I’m proud to support the federal government’s efforts to provide fire departments on the South and Central Coasts and across the country with the resources to do their jobs in a safe and effective manner.”

The bipartisan legislation would authorize $2.2 billion a year in grants for local municipalities to upgrade crucial equipment and maintain adequate levels of personnel. It also would make it easier for local fire departments to access those critical funds by lowering matching requirements and modifying time commitments.

“Our local firefighters, both professional and volunteer, must have the best training and equipment at their disposal to keep our communities safe,” Capps said. “State and local governments are facing falling revenues and shrinking budgets, but even in these challenging economic times, they should never have to choose between balancing their budgets and providing adequate training and equipment to their fire personnel. This bill protects against that.”

The Fire Grants program has been providing funding to fire departments and other first responders since 2001. The grants can be used for a variety of purposes, including the purchase of equipment, firefighter health and safety programs, enhancing emergency medical services programs, and conducting fire education and prevention programs.

The bill is supported by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Volunteer Fire Council, the National Fire Protection Association and the Congressional Fire Services Institute.

— Emily Kryder is communications director for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.