Democrat wants grants for women's restrooms in fire stations

Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) has proposed legislation that would let fire stations around the country apply for grants of up to $100,000 to build women's restrooms, showers and changing facilities.

The Fairness in Restrooms Existing in Stations (FIRE Stations) Act, H.R. 3753, says these grants would help promote gender equity in fire houses. The findings of the legislation says most were built with a "single-gender workforce" in mind, that 50 percent of all fire departments do not have any female employees, and that women make up just 3.7 percent of all firefighters.

"[A] few fire departments still assign women only to stations that have facilities for women, limiting the potential for promotion and advancement for women," the bill adds.

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Under the bill, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could make grants to eligible fire stations to upgrade their restrooms to "create more equitable conditions for women firefighters." To be eligible, fire stations would have to submit an application to DHS that shows they have a "commitment to increasing the number of women firefighters," and that funds received would not be used to displace any personnel.

Priority would also be given to stations that have chemical facilities, refineries or other high-risk industries within their jurisdiction.

The bill limits grants to $100,000 per fire station, but does not put any final limit on the amount that could be spent. Instead, it authorizes the appropriation of "such sums as may be necessary to carry out this Act."