PATERSON – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded a new federal FIRE Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) to the Garfield Fire Department in the amount of $193,500. The grant will help the fire department obtain 43 self contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA) with extra bottles to provide extended operational time.
“Ensuring the safety of Garfield 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 Firefighter Investment Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act in March 1999. “This grant will ensure that these brave professionals 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.”
“As fire departments across our nation feel the constraints of these tough economic times, this grant couldn't have come at a better time," said Garfield Fire Chief John Kopacz, who leads a department of more than 100 volunteer firefighters. "These SCBA's are critical to ensuring our firefighters' safety as they put their lives on the line to protect our community, and I thank Congressman Pascrell for fighting on behalf of the brave men and women in our city to ensure they have the resources they need."
"Congressman Pascrell is a champion for public safety and we are grateful for his efforts in getting this funding," said said Garfield Mayor Joe Delaney. "This grant will help provide our firefighters the equipment they need to keep themselves and our community safe."
The AFG program makes direct grants to fire departments to purchase equipment, training, firefighting vehicles, and other fire fighting and fire prevention activities. It also funds Fire Prevention and Safety Grants which are used for fire awareness and prevention activities, as well as fire safety related research. The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant (SAFER) program makes grants to local fire departments to assist in the hiring of 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.
In December, the U.S. House of Representatives reauthorized - with broad bipartisan support - AFG, SAFER and U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). The reauthorization included many important improvements to AFG and SAFER, including raising current grant caps, reducing the local match under FIRE, significantly simplifying the local match under SAFER, and providing waivers for communities facing significant economic hardship.