Rep. Pascrell Unveils State-of-the-art Firefighter Training Equipment
By Mel Fabrikant Tuesday, December 17, 2013, 02:34 PM EST
Driving simulators purchased with funds made available through Pascrell's FIRE Act
PATERSON – In continuing his efforts to ensure our nation's first responders have the resources they need to protect our communities, today U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) was joined by Paterson Fire Chief Michael Postorino to unveil two state-of-the-art driving simulators to train firefighters how to safely operate fire engines and ambulances through the streets of Paterson. Funding for the training equipment was made possible through a $177,868 federal FIRE Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) awarded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“Ensuring the safety of Paterson residents against the dangers of fire starts with providing the community’s firefighters with the equipment they need. That’s what the FIRE grants are all about,” stated Pascrell, who introduced the Pascrell’s Firefighter Investment Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act in March 1999. “This state-of-the-art equipment will ensure that our brave first responders have every advantage available to keep the risk of loss of life and property damage at an absolute minimum. The FIRE Act was written here in Northern New Jersey with the purpose of helping communities support their first responders and bolster public safety.”
Paterson Fire Chief Michael Postorino, who leads a department of 330 professional firefighters, said the grant was especially appreciated during the tough economic times that have put constraints on municipal budgets.
"This grant money allows our department to be more efficient, better trained, and more equipped," stated Chief Postorino. "The efforts by Rep. Bill Pascrell in obtaining grants for fire departments allows us to best serve our residents."
The driving simulators feature three large monitors, with the cockpit resembling the cab of an actual fire truck. Software can be uploaded to the simulator to replicate different scenarios, including various emergency situations, weather conditions, traffic patterns, and specific street layouts. The simulators, which are typically found only in fire training academies, will be housed in the Paterson Fire Department Headquarters and will be available to fire departments in surrounding communities upon request.
This is the seventh AFG grant to be awarded to the Paterson Fire Department, making a total of more than $1.4 million awarded to the department since 2001.
In January, Rep. Pascrell announced a massive $6.97 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) staffing grant, which prevented 40 firefighter lay-offs in Paterson. Rep. Pascrell also secured a SAFER grant of $6.4 million in 2005 that allowed the department to hire 53 firefighters.
Rep. Pascrell saw the FIRE Act signed into law by President Clinton in 2000. Since the FIRE Act and SAFER were initially authorized, in FY2001 and 2005, respectively, they have provided more than $8 billion in grants to local fire departments, to hire approximately 18,500 firefighters.
From FY2001-FY2010 New Jersey received nearly $200 million in grants to hire approximately 740 firefighters.