WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Paterson Fire Department is about to get a whole new wardrobe. With the support of U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has awarded a new federal FIRE Assistance to Firefighters grant to the Paterson Fire Department.
The grant totals $639,576 earmarked to purchase turnout gear for 252 firefighters, including protective coats, pants and helmets.
Rep. Pascrell, who introduced the Firefighter Investment Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act in March 1999, said this is “the first step to ensuring the safety of Paterson residents against the dangers of fire.”
“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,” Pascrell said in a press release. “The FIRE Act was written here in Northern New Jersey with the purpose of helping communities support their first responders and bolster public safety.”
The Paterson Fire Department has been awarded seven previous AFG grants, totaling more than $2 million since 2001.
The 330-member fire department received a $6.97 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant last year to prevent 40 layoffs. In 2005, they received a similar award to hire 53 fire fighters.
Paterson Fire Chief Michael Pstorino is greatly appreciative of the grants, especially during the tough financial times that have handcuffed governing bodies.
“Obviously, this is just another tool to help our dedicated firefighters do their jobs more effectively and safely,” Chief Postorino said in a press release. “Without this grant we would struggle to obtain these vital resources for our department.”
Menendez thinks the funding is “critical to helping ensure firefighters in Paterson are ready to respond to emergencies and save lives.
“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,” he said. “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.”
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, according to Pascrell.