CLIFTON – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) today joined officials from the City of Clifton at a swearing-in ceremony to welcome back eight firefighters hired as a result of a federal grant the city was awarded in July. Clifton received a $1,350,656 federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (S.A.F.E.R.) grant to hire the firefighters sworn in today, along with a $22,664 Fire Prevention & Safety program (FP&S) to purchase new arson investigation equipment.
"This is truly an honor to be able to welcome eight firefighters back to the Clifton Fire Department at a time when we need them most," said Pascrell, who conceived of the federal firefighter staffing program in his first term in office "As veterans these men defended our country, and I applaud them for their bravery in continuing to keep our communities safe. Real homeland security starts at home, so no matter what our budget environment is like, we must continue to support the firefighters and first responders who sacrifice so much to keep us safe."
This was the first S.A.F.E.R. grant and the ninth FIRE Act AFG grant to be awarded to the Clifton Fire Department, making a total of $2.5 million awarded to the city since both programs were implemented.
Clifton Fire Chief Vincent Colavitti applauded Pascrell for his advocacy on behalf of fire departments throughout the country
"Knowing the City of Clifton Fire Department was awarded to two AFG Grants will dramatically assist our department in delivering the services to our residents that are needed." said Chief Colavitti. "Receiving the first grant for eight firefighters will help bring our staffing closer to our departments needs, at no cost to our residents. The second grant will assist us in determining the origin and cause of a fire and how to prevent it in the future. This is a very good day for the City of Clifton Fire Department and the city's residents."
Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi expressed his thanks for the federal funding.
"I thank Congressman Pascrell for his diligence in getting us this grant so we can hire eight firefighters you see here today, which will assist us in getting closer to filling our table of organization," said Mayor Anzaldi.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the F.I.R.E. AFG funding directly to fire departments, legislation Rep. Pascrell assisted in authoring. Since the FIRE Act and SAFER were initially authorized, in FY2001 and 2005, respectively, they have provided over $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 November 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives reauthorized - with broad bipartisan support - Rep. Pascrell’s original AFG program with $1 billion per fiscal year from 2010 to 2014.