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Pascrell Announces Major Federal Aid for Fire Departments in Covid Relief Bill

Stimulus package bolsters federal fire grants championed by Pascrell

Today, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and his Democratic colleagues passed the American Rescue Plan, comprehensive relief and stimulus legislation that will combat the dual threats of the pandemic and its economic fallout. Co-sponsored by Pascrell, the legislation provides an additional $300 million for federal fire services grants in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 to help America’s fire departments weather this crisis.

“America stands at the precipice of defeating this virus once and for all. But we could not have arrived at this point without the bravery of our firefighters and first responders. We owe them a debt of gratitude,” said Rep. Pascrell, co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “Today Democrats are providing $300 million for America’s firefighters so they can continue their lifesaving work, including $100 million through the AFG program created by my FIRE Act and $200 million through the SAFER program to help departments with hiring and retention. Together congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden are doing everything we can to ensure our fire departments have all the personnel and resources they need. I pray that the worst of this crisis is almost behind us thanks to the service and sacrifices of America’s first responders. The federal government must support them every step of the way.”

Democrats’ American Rescue Plan provides an additional $200 million for the Staffing for Adequate Fire Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program in FY21, which supports the hiring and retention of firefighters. The relief package also includes an additional $100 million for the Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG) program in FY21, which helps departments invest in lifesaving equipment and resources, such as personal protective equipment, and provide training and mental health support. Annual funding for the AFG program is provided by Rep. Pascrell’s Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act, which was signed into law in 2000 by President Bill Clinton.

Through his FIRE Act, Rep. Pascrell helps procure hundreds of thousands in federal support for New Jersey firefighters each year. Since the outset of the pandemic, Rep. Pascrell has worked to secure millions in emergency federal funding to aid New Jersey in its fight against the virus. Rep. Pascrell helped pass the CARES Act in March 2020, which also included $100 million in emergency AFG funding.

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