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Nation’s Emergency Services Districts Support Bipartisan ‘Special District Grant Accessibility Act’

Black and white photo of the US Capitol Building under a cloudy sky.

The National Association of Emergency and Fire Officials (NAEFO) strongly supports landmark legislation to federally define “special district,” and to begin breaking down barriers emergency service districts face to access certain federally-sourced funding opportunities.

H.R. 7525, the Special District Grant Accessibility Act, would federally codify a standard definition of “special district.” The lack of a single, recognized definition in federal law has historically presented additional challenges for the nation’s special districts – including those providing fire, ambulance, and emergency services – to access federally-funded assistance opportunities for local governments. These issues largely stem simply from their classification as a special purpose government.

Congressman Pat Fallon, R-Texas, sponsors H.R. 7525 alongside co-lead Congresswoman Brittany Pettersen, D-Colo. As the legislation stands to have significant positive impacts on the nation’s emergency service districts, NAEFO members are called to act in support.


Read NAEFO’s letter of support for the Special District Grant Accessibility Act

Click here to add your district/organization the national H.R. 7525 support coalition.


NAEFO members supporting the Special District Grant Accessibility Act will receive a follow up with resources for their district’s local advocacy, including a template support letter, reference document, and tips for advocacy in a follow up.

Adding teeth to the definition’s establishment, the simple three-page bill would leveraging the definition to require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) – the clearing house for federal program rules, regulations, and actions – to issue guidance across federal agencies, emphasizing that special districts are indeed local governments. The intent is to clarify districts’ eligibility federally-sourced programs and placement on a more level playing field to access them. OMB would be required to report back to Congress on the policy’s implementation within two years of the bill’s enactment into law.

Many federally-sourced fire and EMS programs flow to fire departments, ambulance services, and other recognized emergency services regardless of their governance structure; however, there are a range of programs that special districts are eligible to indirectly access after jumping through, at-times intensive and discouraging, hurdles or are altogether disqualified from consideration. This is simply because of special district status. Examples include Community Development Block Grant funds, federal reimbursement programs, and in the past, COVID funding. The legislation will, if made law, be the catalyst to address this complex policy issue.

Fallon introduced H.R. 7525 on March 5, 2024, and the bill was promptly considered in the House Oversight and Accountability Committee on March 7. The committee favorably reported the measure, 38-2. The legislation awaits full House consideration.

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