An award from the federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program will outfit 46 volunteer firefighters in Secaucus, New Jersey with personal protective equipment, in addition to funding advanced firefighter training.
The new equipment, which includes coats, pants, boots, gloves, suspenders, helmets, hoods, and facial shields, will replace 10- to 14-year old gear that has become too worn or damaged to offer the required level of safety for the town’s 90 volunteer first responders. The new gear complies with the standards of both the National Fire Protection Association and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The federal grant will also fund training for 55 volunteers to achieve Firefighter II status, through a course providing them with sufficient knowledge and skill to function in an emergency without direct supervision and to be capable of making on-duty decisions.
The federal grant comes to $132,027, with the applicant’s share amounting to $6,948.
The announcement was made here today by Ms. Dale McShine, Director of Grants for Region II of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the AFG program.
“This grant is truly a lifesaver,” said Michael Gonnelli, the mayor of Secaucus, who is also the town’s former fire chief and serves with the department’s volunteers. “Secaucus is one of the last fully volunteer fire departments in Hudson County,” he added, emphasizing that “firefighter safety is our primary aim. The additional training covered in this grant follows the same path.”
The Town of Secaucus, with a population of roughly 18,500 – which grows by some 100,000 during work hours – responds annually to an average of 700 incidents, ranging from those taking place in 25-story structures, 300,000 square-foot warehouses, and marsh fires to single family homes. These responses include fire suppression, hazardous materials, extrications, technical rescue, structure-collapse rescue, natural disasters, and emergency medical service.
The Bergen County Fire Academy, adjacent to Hudson County, will offer the Firefighter II course, which, in addition to practical exercises, features lectures, overheads, audiovisual presentations, and a final practical evaluation. The course involves 37 three-hour courses.
“We are very pleased to have been involved in this grant,” FEMA’s Ms. McShine noted. “Our foremost goal of first-responder safety coincides precisely with Mayor Gonnelli’s.”
FEMA’s AFG program has been aiding firefighters and other first responders since 2001. “The program provides critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards,” said Tania Hedlund, FEMA’s Grants Branch Chief. In 2012, the AFG provided funding of $25,340,000 for FEMA’s Region II (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands).
For further information, please contact William H. Douglass at FEMA: 212-680-3665 or 917-561-3223.