WASHINGTON, DC – In continuing their 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) and U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-NJ) announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded a new federal FIRE Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) to the Paterson Fire Department in the amount of $639,576 for the purchase of turnout gear for 252 firefighters including protective coats, pants and helmets.
“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 Rep. Pascrell, who introduced the Firefighter Investment Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act in March 1999. “This new 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.”
“This federal funding is critical to helping ensure firefighters in Paterson are ready to respond to emergencies and save lives,” said Sen. Menendez. “We are obligated to do everything we can to make sure our firefighters have the training and equipment they need to work safely and effectively. That's why I am committed to fighting for this program on behalf of our fire departments and personnel who protect our communities every day.”
“We have a sacred obligation to our firefighters: they protect New Jersey, and we must protect them,” said Sen. Booker. “The personal protective equipment these federal grants provide will help keep Paterson’s bravest safe as they respond to emergencies. We must continue to do all we can to bring more resources to our local fire departments, and I look forward to continuing my work in partnership with Senator Menendez, Congressman Pascrell, and other members of our state delegation who are dedicated to fighting for our firefighters. ”
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.
“Obviously, this is just another tool to help our dedicated firefighters do their jobs more effectively and safely,” stated Chief Postorino. “Without this grant we would struggle to obtain these vital resources for our department.”
This is the eighth AFG grant to be awarded to the Paterson Fire Department, making a total of more than $2 million awarded to the department since 2001.
Last year, the Paterson Fire Department received a massive $6.97 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) staffing grant, which prevented 40 firefighter layoffs. Paterson was also awarded 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 purchase equipment and hire approximately 18,500 firefighters.
From FY2001-FY2010 New Jersey received nearly $200 million in grants to hire approximately 740 firefighters.