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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

United States Fire Administration: An Overview



Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The United States Fire Administration (USFA)—which includes the National Fire Academy (NFA)—is currently housed within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The objective of the USFA is to significantly reduce the nation’s loss of life from fire, while also achieving a reduction in property loss and non-fatal injury due to fire.

P.L. 112-74, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2012, provided $44.038 million for USFA in FY2012. The FY2013 budget proposal requested $42.52 million for USFA, a 3.4% reduction from the FY2012 level. Of the requested total appropriation, $13.327 million would be allocated to the National Fire Academy. On May 16, 2012, The House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY2013 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill (H.R. 5855). The Committee recommended $42.46 million for USFA, which is $60,000 below the Administration request and $1.578 million below the FY2012 level (a 3.6% reduction). On May 22, 2012, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $44.020 million for USFA for FY2013 (S. 3216). The Senate mark is $1.5 million above the Administration request. The Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013 (P.L. 112-175) funds the USFA through the first six months of FY2013 at an increase of 0.612% of the FY2012 level. Therefore, under the FY2013 continuing resolution, AFG is funded at $44.307 million.

The latest authorization of the USFA expired on September 30, 2012. On November 29, 2012, the Senate adopted, by unanimous consent, USFA reauthorization language as part of an amendment to S. 3254, the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act. On December 4, 2012, the Senate passed S. 3254 by a 98-0 vote. The Senate-passed defense authorization bill is going to conference with the House defense authorization bill, H.R. 4130. H.R. 4130, as passed by the House, does not contain the USFA reauthorization provision.

S. 3254, as passed by the Senate, would reauthorize USFA at a level of $76,490,890 for FY2013 through FY2017 (with $2.7 million set aside each year for technology and standards development); authorize the USFA Administrator to appoint a Deputy Administrator; authorize the Administrator to take such steps as the Administrator considers appropriate to educate the public and overcome public indifference as to fire, fire prevention, and individual preparedness; and remove the limitation on funding levels for updating the National Fire Incident Reporting System.

As is the case with many federal programs, concerns in the 113
th Congress over the federal budget deficit could impact future funding levels for the USFA. Debate over the USFA budget has focused on whether the USFA is receiving an appropriate level of funding to accomplish its mission, given that appropriations for USFA have consistently been well below the agency’s authorized level. An ongoing issue is the viability and status of the USFA and National Fire Academy within the Department of Homeland Security. .


Date of Report: December 6, 2012
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: RS20071
Price: $29.95

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