PATERSON, NJ - The city's fire department will be able to purchase more than $107,000 of flood rescue equipment and training with federal grant money, according to an announcement made Wednesday by Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. and Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg.

The press release said that among the items to be purchased with the help of the $107,736 grant are:

  • 50 personal floatation devices
  • 20 throw bags with snag plates
  • 2 floatation kits for stretchers
  • 1,200 feet of floating rescue rope
  • 20 ring buoys
  • 40 mesh duffle bags
  • 40 water rescue knives
  • Enough waterproof boots, gloves, vests, helmets, wet/dry suits and locating strobe lights for 40 firefighters.

The grant will also provide technical training  for water and ice rescues for 24 firefighters, who will, in turn, train the others firefighters in the department, according to Pascrell's office. 

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“As everyone in Paterson learned during last summer's flooding, our local waterways can turn into white water rapids with just one storm. That makes it all the more important that our firefighters and other first responders are just as prepared for water emergencies as they are for fires,” said Pascrell, who introduced the Firefighter Investment Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act in March 1999. “We have an obligation to provide these brave professionals with every advantage available to keep the risk to their lives at an absolute minimum. The FIRE Act was written here in the Eighth Congressional District with the purpose of helping communities support their first responders.”

"This federal investment in Paterson's firefighters will better prepare them to protect families in the Silk City," said Senator Lautenberg, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and native Patersonian.  "Firefighters put their lives on the line to keep us safe and they deserve our support.  Whiles states and municipalities are making tough budget cuts, federal grants for local first responders are especially important and we are pleased to deliver for Paterson."

Paterson Fire Chief Michael Postorino, who leads a department of 330 firefighters, said that because Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee prompted a statewide emergency, the city's public safety departments could not depend on state resources for swift water rescues. The Fire Department's challenge was to become more self-reliant.

"Anyone that witnessed the Paterson flooding last summer saw what our local waters became. But remember, the whole state was affected by those storms. That meant that the state resources that we would normally rely upon were not available," said Postorino. "This grant came as a result of this last surge of flooding. I want to thank Congressman Pascrell for his efforts on our behalf to help us be even more responsive to help keep the people of Paterson safe."

This is the sixth FIRE Act AFG grant to be awarded to the Paterson Fire Department, making a total of $1.4 million awarded to the department since 2001, the press release said.

Rep. Pascrell also secured a massive Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant of $6.4 million in 2005 that allowed the department to hire 64 firefighters.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the F.I.R.E. Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) directly to fire departments. Since 2001, the AFG has provided approximately $4 billion in grants to first-responder organizations to obtain much-needed emergency response equipment, personal protective equipment, firefighting and emergency vehicles, and training. 

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.

Rep. Pascrell originally sponsored the SAFER Program legislation, which became law in 2003.

The SAFER program makes grants to local fire departments to assist in the hiring of firefighters. The program will receive up to $1.2 billion per fiscal year from 2010 to 2014 through the November authorization bill.

New Jersey fire departments have received more than $97 million in AFG awards during fiscal years 2001-08 and $17 million in SAFER grants during fiscal years 2005-08.