Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

Pascrell National FIRE Grant Program Delivers for Little Falls' First Responders

Sep 3, 2003
Press Release

$177,420 in new federal dollars awarded today by FEMA;
Brings two year total for Little Falls FD $410,349

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ, 8th) announced today that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded the Township of Little Falls Fire Department a new federal FIRE grant in the amount of $177,420 for fire operations and firefighter safety.  The funding can be used to fund training, firefighting equipment, personal protective equipment for firefighters, wellness and fitness programs and modifications to the fire station and facilities.  The grant award includes $177,240 in new federal funding and a 10% match from Little Falls in the amount of $17,724.  This is the second FIRE grant Little Falls has received under the national legislation written by Pascrell.  It received a $232,929 award last year during year two of the program.

This is the third year that fire departments across America have received grants under FEMA's Assistance to Firefighters Program, which was directly created by Pascrell's Firefighter Investment Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 2000.   With broad bi-partisan support, Pascrell's program has grown from $100 million in fiscal year 2001 to $360 million in fiscal year 2002 to $750 million this year.

"The national FIRE Act was written right here in the Eighth District specifically to help communities such as Little Falls support their first responders," Pascrell said in announcing the award.  "For too long, the federal government turned a deaf ear to the pressing needs of fire departments.  This grant demonstrates that through the FIRE Act, we have changed that shortsighted policy." 

 "The tremendous work of Committeewoman Marti Kennedy and Chief Edmond Pomponio in putting the Little Falls application together was outstanding and the results last year and now speak for themselves.  You've got to know how to write grant proposals."

"Thanks to our bill, cities and towns like Little Falls will no longer have to rely solely on raising property taxes and holding bake sales to support their first responders.  Those days are over.  The federal government is now a full partner with local firefighters and the taxpayers they protect," said Pascrell.

The Assistance to Firefighters Program was created by Pascrell's landmark Firefighter Investment Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act legislation, first enacted in October of 2000, and is administered by the United States Fire Services Administration (USFA) within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which now is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security. Pascrell's "FIRE Act," introduced in March of 1999, is the first comprehensive national legislation dedicated to meet the special needs of America's 32,000 volunteer, paid and part-paid fire departments.

Other local communities that have already benefited from Pascrell's FIRE Bill include the City of Passaic, which was awarded $195,811 last year; Clifton, which has received an award in both 2001 and 2002 totaling $183,982, Paterson, which has received an award in both 2001 and 2002 totaling over $362,000; and Wayne, which received a $29,700 award in 2001.

This year FEMA received approximately 19,950 applications for the 2003 grant program.  The application period closed in early April 2003 and the total request of all departments, including the non-federal share, totaled approximately $2.5 billion.

Working with the major fire service organizations, FEMA crafted a program implementation framework that placed eligible grant activities into four program areas.  Fire departments could apply for eligible activities in one of four different programs:

  1. Fire Operations and Firefighter Safety (eligible activities include: Training, Wellness and Fitness, Firefighting Equipment, Personal Protective Equipment, and modifications to fire stations and facilities.)
  2. Fire Prevention (eligible activities include: Public Education, Public Awareness, Code Enforcement, and Arson Prevention).
  3. Emergency Medical Services (eligible activities include: Training and Equipment).
  4. Firefighting Vehicles.

The maximum amount an applicant can be awarded is $750,000 during any fiscal year. As part of the application, applicants had to demonstrate financial need and articulate the benefits to be derived from the grant funds.  Funding priorities for each of the activities were established utilizing recommendations from each of the nine major national fire service organizations.

America's 32,000 paid, volunteer, and part-paid departments were all eligible for the grants under the program.