U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) today 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 $68,204. The grant, made through the Fire Prevention & Safety program (FP&S) will help the fire department obtain new code inspection software allowing the city to better track annual code inspections.
"In Paterson, fire can break out in a single-family house, a high-rise apartment building or an industrial warehouse. Our firefighters must be ready for anything," said 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."
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.
"This is a much needed grant; we're not in a position to afford this on our own in the current financial state the city is in," Postorino said of the new equipment as he thanked Rep. Pascrell. "This grant will allow us to upgrade our annual code inspection system and keep better track of our fire prevention records."
This is the sixth AFG grant to be awarded to the Paterson Fire Department, making a total of more than $1.3 million awarded to the department since 2001. 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 53 firefighters.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the AFG program, which 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.
Rep. Pascrell saw the FIRE Act signed into law by President Clinton in 2000. The AFG program started with a $100 million appropriation in fiscal year 2001. With broad bipartisan support, the U.S. House of Representatives reauthorized the AFG program for $1 billion from 2010 to 2014.