WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) today announced a $1,350,656 federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (S.A.F.E.R.) grant and a $22,664 Fire Prevention & Safety program (FP&S) grant for the City of Clifton's Fire Department. The funding will allow the department to hire eight firefighters and also purchase new arson investigation equipment. This is 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.
"The current economic crisis has put an extreme burden on the brave men and women in our local firehouses, so I am pleased eight new firefighters will be joining Clifton’s force at a time when we need them most," said Pascrell, who conceived of the federal firefighter staffing program in his first term in office. "The S.A.F.E.R. program was designed to help fire departments meet challenges exactly like those the Clifton Departments is facing. We have worked hard to ensure the S.A.F.E.R. program, and other public safety programs, continue to exist in the face of immense budget and political pressures. It's a real boost to local public safety that this important federal investment will be put to use right here in North Jersey, and it is a credit to the fine application submitted by the Clifton."
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, 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. Since 2001, the AFG has provided nearly $6 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 also originally sponsored the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) legislation, which became law in 2003. The SAFER program makes grants to local fire departments to assist in the hiring of firefighters. The program is authorized to receive up to $1.2 billion per fiscal year from 2010 to 2014.
New Jersey fire departments have received more than $124 million in AFG awards during fiscal years 2001-10 and more than $74 million in SAFER grants during fiscal years 2005-10.