Closing Water Infrastructure Gaps For Fire Suppression

Closing Water Infrastructure Gaps For Fire Suppression

February 3, 2023

Local fire and water agencies across the nation struggle to provide and access adequate resources for fire suppression. Our friends at the National Special Districts Coalition (NSDC) are prioritizing legislative action to address this issue in the 118th Congress and continue to seek feedback from community stakeholders on the issue.

In July 2022, the NSDC released a report with in-depth insights on core issues facing fire and water agencies as they strive to provide essential public health and safety services.  

Primarily, local governments cite the absence of a financial assistance program aimed to ensure adequate water infrastructure coverage for firefighting in or nearby populated areas as a consistent problem. Driving this concern is the high cost of building infrastructure with sufficient water pressure to serve hydrants, establish water storage, and procure fire vehicles.

Other challenges include ability to access existing federal funding programs, interagency communication coordination, and difficulty achieving awards for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) major fire service grant programs. Nearly all challenges noted in the NSDC report are more pronounced in rural communities.

The NSDC assembled a group of 24 fire protection and water district leaders from nine states to examine the infrastructure gaps and to formally recommend steps to enhance fire suppression and mitigate fire disasters. The group recommends four policy actions for federal lawmakers:

  • Establish pilot stand-alone cost share grant programs under FEMA to directly aid all types of local governments to address infrastructure gaps for fire suppression needs;
  • Provide enhanced technical assistance for local agencies seeking funding opportunities for water and fire infrastructure;
  • Make additional appropriations and provide greater flexibility for FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program;
  • Direct a FEMA administrative review of how Agency-approved local disaster mitigation plans are developed to ensure all agencies with eligible mitigation projects have an opportunity to participate.

          Does your agency have insights to offer on needs and experience in water infrastructure for firefighting?
                                                                                          Share your feedback here.

Fire protection districts interested in engaging with the NSDC on grassroots and legislative efforts to address this public policy issue are encouraged to contact Cole Arreola-Karr at for more information.

Ridgeline Municipal Strategies, LLC helps fire protection districts with financial planning and financing for facilities and equipment, including bond issuance, private placements, USDA loans, and equipment leasing. Contact us to discuss your financing needs.