Schumer seeks support for funding to assist firefighters
Two federal fire department grant programs are up for a reinstatement vote in the U.S. Senate this year, and Senator Charles E. Schumer said he is launching a push to keep the money flowing to local fire departments.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Program are two of the main federal firefighter funding programs, Schumer said. Both are set to run out in 2023, so the Senate has introduced the Fire Grants and Safety Act to keep them funding through at least 2030, through the U.S. Fire Administration.
“Over the last 20 years, these programs have delivered nearly $700 million in federal funding to NY firefighters and first responders, but if new legislation doesn’t pass, fire departments will not be able to access this funding in 2024,” Schumer said in a release.
“Upstate New York’s firefighters are heroes who risk their lives every day to keep our communities safe, we cannot let the critical programs that provide them the support they need simply go up in smoke.”
In the local area, the Rome Fire Department used $300,955 from the grants in 2017 to purchase 78 new sets of fire protection gear. The Utica Fire Department used $500,000 in federal grant money to buy a new fire truck in 2018.
“A lot of times, it allows us to purchase equipment that we’re just not able to purchase,” explained Rome Fire Chief Thomas Iacovissi.
Iacovissi said he is very familiar with the grant programs and his department applies often to help purchase equipment. In January of this year, Iacovissi said they were approved for money to buy battery-powered extrication equipment for their apparatus.
The grants are “very important” to firefighter operations, Chief Iacovissi said.
“It helps firefighters around the country,” he stated.
Volunteer fire departments also receive grant money from these programs, officials said. In recent years, fire departments in Floyd, Lake Delta, New London, Deerfield and more have received funding.
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