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Fire Grant Council announces over $20 million in grants for local fire departments

Thanks to recent legislation, the Council will distribute more than three times the $6.6 million allocated last year

Santa Fe, NM – On Tuesday, the New Mexico Fire Grant Council announced award decisions for the FY22 Fire Protection Grant Fund, directing over $20 million in grants across more than 100 of New Mexico’s local fire departments. These grants will fund projects ranging from critical facility improvements to training and recruitment programs, as well as the purchase of water systems, firetrucks, breathing equipment, and personal protective equipment (PPE), among other tools.

This $20 million figure represents a substantial increase from the $6.6 million distributed in FY21 – largely due to Senate Bill 256 (SB 256), which Governor Lujan Grisham signed into law earlier this year. This bipartisan legislation reversed a 2017 law which required that 60% of the potential funding for the Fire Protection Grant be reverted to the General Fund instead. Now, fire departments have access to 100% of the available capital in the Fire Protection Grant. SB 256 also created a new category of grant funding, which enables volunteer fire departments to apply for $25,000 stipends to assist with recruiting, retaining, and educating the next generation of firefighters.

The Grant Council is composed of career firefighters from every region of the state, as well as representatives from the Municipal League and the Association of Counties. Applications are evaluated based on each department’s needs, accounting for the condition of critical equipment, funding levels, and ratings generated by the private Insurance Services Office (ISO), which measure a department’s ability to protect lives and property within their community.

Details on the awarded grants are available here. They include:

  • Funding for more than 100 fire departments across 28 counties
  • $687,000 in stipends for training, recruitment, retention, and education
  • $1.1 million for radios and emergency communications equipment
  • $1.7 million to repair and improve fire station facilities
  • $1.9 million for breathing equipment, PPE, and rescue equipment
  • $3.3 million for water systems, including hydrants, pipes, and other infrastructure
  • $11.3 million for apparatus (primarily firetrucks and similar vehicles)

With better-funded fire departments, many New Mexico communities may also benefit from lower insurance premiums, as insurers generally give more favorable rates to communities with low ISO ratings and well-equipped fire protection services. Just last month, the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) congratulated 10 local fire districts on their improved ISO ratings. Notably, six of these districts received funds from the Fire Protection Grant within the last three years.

“With the help of the Governor’s office, DHSEM, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Legislature, this Council is proud to support New Mexico’s firefighters and the communities they protect,” said Fire Grant Council Chairperson Robert Larrañaga.

“These grants represent a historic investment in New Mexico’s fire departments,” said Deputy State Fire Marshal Randy Varela.  “Our office is grateful to both the Legislature and Governor Lujan Grisham for working so hard to secure this critical funding. We would also like to thank the members of the Fire Grant Council for their fierce dedication to this process. We are confident these awards will provide essential support to fire departments across the state. Most of all, these funds will help our firefighters protect the people of New Mexico and stay safe in the process.”

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DHSEM works to protect the people of New Mexico and the nation through a comprehensive and coordinated program of mitigating hazards, preparing for emergencies, preventing attacks, and recovering from disasters. The New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s Office is part of DHSEM beginning on July 1, 2021.