PHOTO RELEASE: Gottheimer Honors New Bergen County Firefighters at the Firefighter One Graduation Ceremony

Oct 22, 2022
Press

HACKENSACK, NJ

Continues Clawing Back Federal Investments to Equip First Responders With Life-saving Equipment, Helping Lower Local Tax Burden on Families

Above: Gottheimer addressing the graduating class at this year’s Firefighter One Graduation Ceremony.

HACKENSACK, NJ — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined with Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-9), Bergen County Executive James Tedesco, firefighters, first responders, and the North Jersey community to celebrate the 135 members graduating from the Bergen County Fire Academy at this year’s Firefighter One Graduation Ceremony. 

“To our new firefighters and their families, I could not be more proud of the hard work you have all done and the sacrifices you have made to complete this program  congratulations to all 135 graduates — including 41 from New Jersey’s Fifth District,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “Thank you all for your bravery and everything you will do to keep our communities and our country safe, not only from fires, but also from flooding, terror, and other perilous threats to our homeland. Helping others has always been the motivating force of a heroic firefighter — you run directly into the fire and danger when others are running out. And because of that, we must always get your backs.”

Earlier this week, Gottheimer joined with Congressman Pascrell to announce a new $661,000 federal investment clawed back from Washington to Teaneck first responders to protect them and our communities. Gottheimer also announced new steps to move the bipartisan, bicameral Invest to Protect Act forward and get it fully signed into law.

Gottheimer’s work to support North Jersey’s first responders and their families includes the following:

  • Gottheimer was an original cosponsor of the bipartisan Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, which was signed into law. Gottheimer also voted to increase investment in the Firefighter Cancer Registry, and urge the CDC to maximize firefighter participation. 
  • Gottheimer was an original cosponsor of the Michael Lecik Military Firefighters Protection Act to provide veteran firefighters with the fair compensation, healthcare, and retirement benefits they’ve earned through their service.
  • Gottheimer fought for the bipartisan Never Forget the Heroes Act, which became law, to permanently authorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Gottheimer was an original cosponsor of this bipartisan legislation and the Problem Solvers Caucus, Co-Chaired by Gottheimer, endorsed the bill and called for swift floor passage with bipartisan support.
  • Gottheimer helped pass the bipartisan Federal Firefighters Fair Act through the House of Representatives — legislation he cosponsored — guaranteeing our firefighters have access to critical disability and retirement benefits they deserve after putting their lives on the line for us.
  • Since 2016, Gottheimer has helped claw back $6.9 million dollars to the Fifth District in Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) for life-saving firefighting equipment.

Below: Gottheimer honors this year’s graduating class.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery: 

To our new firefighters and their families, I could not be more proud of the hard work you have all done and the sacrifices you have made to complete this program — congratulations to all 135 graduates from across Jersey and New York — including 41 from New Jersey’s Fifth District!

I want to thank County Executive Jim Tedesco for his continued support of our first responders, and of course, his tremendous service to our community as a firefighter himself. Thank you to Richard Blohm, the Director of the Law and Public Safety Institute and all the staff there responsible for training the next generation of first responders. 

I’m proud to be standing here today with my dear friend, Congressman Pascrell. My first event as a member of Congress was actually at a firehouse in Teaneck with  Bill, who immediately recruited me to the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus and the Congressional Fire Services Caucus.

He chairs them both, and I’m so proud to fight alongside him for legislation that supports our first responders. It’s fitting that earlier this week, we joined together once again to announce more than $437,000 in federal investment to equip Teaneck firefighters with 58 radios and more than $224,000 for the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps for new EMS turnout gear. 

The Bergen County Law and Public Safety Institute is a world-class facility and one of the most prominent, successful, and influential training academies operating in the State of New Jersey and the Nation. It’s highly regarded and has been nationally recognized for its excellence in public safety education and training. That is all because of its excellent instructors, staff, and administrators.

To the graduates, I’d like to begin by thanking all of you for your bravery and everything you will do to keep our communities and our country safe, not only from fires, but also from flooding, terror, a pandemic,  and other perilous threats to our homeland. Helping others has always been the motivating force of a heroic firefighter — you run directly into the fire and danger when others are running out. And because of that, we must always get your backs.

Some of you are part of a long line of service in your families — generations of firefighters serving the same department, coming through this same program, others answering the question for the first time: “What more can I be doing for my community?” and choosing to serve on the front lines. However you got here, 135 of you stepping into the line of duty in departments across North Jersey is an incredible accomplishment for you and your families — and an incalculable gain for our communities.

North Jersey firefighters have saved countless lives throughout our community. From Mike Rose, the Fire Chief of Green Township, to Bill Sanders, the Chief and decades-long member of the River Edge Volunteer Fire Department, to Joe Zbierski, Abby Casario, Sean Valle, and countless other firefighters around our community who I’ve honored as Fifth District Hometown Heroes. You all are about to step into big shoes. Real heroes, men and women who fight fires every day, who save lives — men and women who ran into the towers on 9/11.

For the 135 of you here in this room, because of the training you’ve received from world-class instructors, I have no doubt that you are prepared to answer the call and serve and protect our communities.

I also stand here today because, at my core, I believe our community — and our elected officials, regardless of party — have an obligation to do everything in their power to have the backs of all our first responders because they put their lives on the line every day to keep our families safe.

Here in North Jersey, we are very lucky to live in beautiful, safe communities, and I know it’s what our first responders do on a daily basis that makes our communities so great. 

First responders don’t just keep us safe, they’re an integral part of the community. 

That is why I’ve fought for the bipartisan Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, the Michael Lecik Military Firefighters Protection Act, the Never Forget the Heroes Act to permanently authorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, and the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act. The work you all will go on to do is essential, and I will continue working in Washington to fight to get your backs and ensure you have all the resources you need to protect us.

There’s a quote from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that goes, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve.” Dr. King is right, everyone can serve, and everyone should serve, but it is those who answer that call and do serve that are truly great.

Your service and your greatness will give back to your community, to New Jersey, and to the United States of America, and for that, we are all in your debt.

With great leaders like you serving our community, I know that our best days are still ahead of us.

Thank you, and congratulations. May God bless you, your families, and may God bless the United States of America.

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