Above: Gottheimer pushing for federal American Rescue Plan investment for NJ to be used to secure a new round of investment for the state’s ARP Firefighter Grant program.
NORTH JERSEY — Today, May 2, 2023, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined with NJ Governor Phil Murphy, local and state leaders, and New Jersey firefighter associations to call for the state to utilize $10 million from the federal American Rescue Plan to secure a new round of investment for New Jersey’s American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant (ARPFFG) program.
From this grant program, fire departments in the Fifth Congressional District have clawed back $1.1 million total.
“When it comes to protecting all of our first responders, whether that’s firefighters, law enforcement, or EMTs, we know that we have to invest to protect. That’s why we are here today, standing together. We need to reinvest in our American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant Program for Jersey — for our local fire departments to purchase the gear and equipment they need,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), a member of the bipartisan Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “These are dollars that don’t have to come out of town budgets. These are our tax dollars that are actually coming back from the federal government to help our families and communities here in Jersey – and not going to the Moocher States.”
Gottheimer was joined today at Paramus Fire House No. 3 by Governor Phil Murphy, State Senator Joe Lagana, Assemblywoman Lisa Swain, Assemblyman Chris Tully, Bergen County Executive James Tedesco, Bergen County Commissioner Tom Sullivan, Bergen County Commissioner Mary Amoroso, Bergen County Commissioner Tracy Zur, Bergen County Commissioner Rafael Marte, Bergen County Commissioner Germaine Ortiz, Paramus Mayor Christopher DiPiazza, Department of Local Government Services Director Jacquelyn Suarez, President of the NJ Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association (FMBA) Ed Donnelly, Treasurer of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Matt Caliente, Vice President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) Anthony Tarantino, President of the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association Robert Ordway, Vice President of the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association Joseph Hankins, Paramus Fire Chief Vincent Torre and Hackensack Deputy Fire Chief John Niland.
During last year’s round of investment, the ARPFFG program helped local fire departments cover the costs of much needed equipment, including:
Below: Gottheimer with Governor Phil Murphy, local and state electeds, and New Jersey firefighter associations.
Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
First and foremost, I want to thank our brave first responders here for everything you do to keep our communities and country safe, not only from fires, but also from flooding, terror, natural disasters, and other serious threats to our homeland — not to mention what you do on the EMT front. In North Jersey, most recently, our firefighters have also been working overtime to put out wildfires not far from here. I couldn’t have more respect for the critical and dangerous work that you take on — running directly into the fire and danger when others are running out. And because of that, we must always get your backs — and that’s exactly why we are here today. To protect you and to protect our communities.
I also want to take a moment to send our best to NJ FMBA’s Bobby Allen, who Eddie tells us is undergoing a 10 hour surgery in his battle against cancer today. We’re all thinking of Bobby, and we’re keeping him and his loved ones in our prayers.
Nearly a year ago, we were here in Bergen County to announce federal investment we clawed back from Washington through the American Rescue Plan to protect Jersey’s firefighters and families across Northern Jersey. Over that time, we clawed back $1.1 million dollars back for fire departments here in the Fifth Congressional District, including $43,000 for Paramus alone.
And today, we’re back in the best congressional district in the state — this time at Paramus Fire House No. 3 — to call for additional resources — $10 million dollars — from the American Rescue Plan to get the backs of New Jersey’s bravest. This new investment will go to the equipment firefighters need to keep themselves and our communities safe, including the clothing and turnout gear, for when they run into a burning building, and the air packs they need to breathe — all vitally necessary for doing their jobs and keeping all of us safe.
We know how critical it is for firefighters to have proper cleaning and sanitizing gear for when they return from calls, too. These new resources can also be used to purchase the right washers and dryers to protect them from long-term effects like cancer.
Last year, our American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant Program for New Jersey got nearly three hundred fire departments throughout our state tens of thousands of dollars each.
Those are dollars they didn’t have to raise at pancake breakfasts. Those are dollars that didn’t have to come out of town budgets. Those are our tax dollars that are actually coming back from the federal government to help our families and communities here in Jersey – and not going to the Moocher States.
When it comes to protecting all of our first responders, whether that’s firefighters, law enforcement, or EMTs, we know that we have to invest to protect. That’s why we are here today, standing together. We need to do the right thing and get it done. We need to reinvest in our American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant Program for Jersey — for our local fire departments to purchase the gear and equipment they need.
For seven years now, in Congress, I’ve fought tirelessly for legislation that supports our first responders, including the bipartisan Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, which created the National Firefighter Registry for Cancer that the CDC officially launched just last month. That program will help track incidences of cancer among firefighters to better understand the causes and, based on what they learn, give departments information to better protect our bravest.
On top of that, I’ve fought for passage of the Michael Lecik [LEE-SICK] Military Firefighters Protection Act, the Never Forget the Heroes Act to extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, and the bipartisan Federal Firefighters Fairness Act. Each of these bills will ensure that firefighters get the disability, health, and retirement protections and benefits they’ve earned through their heroic service.
Unfortunately, this year alone we’ve already lost 27 firefighters across our country — including, sadly, just recently, a firefighter in my District in Sussex County — Tony Duivenvoorde [DO-VAN-VORD], a longtime firefighter and life member of Sussex Borough Fire & EMS who was responding to multiple calls last month.
This is why we must keep investing in equipment and training to protect those who put their lives on the line for us each and every day. It’s why we have also fought so hard for the Assistance to Firefighters Grants — or AFG — program, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, known as the SAFER program, and the 1033 surplus program. They help pay for everything from radios to air packs and washers and dryers.
In fact, the last time I was at this fire company was to announce a $360,000 dollar federal investment clawed back through the AFG program for radios.
These investments will help the hundreds of fire departments across our state who already operate with limited budgets and, thankfully, large numbers of volunteers and professionals.
Overall, since I was elected here in the Fifth District, we are up more than 357% percent in what we’ve clawed back to Jersey from Washington and away from the Moocher States, taking a major financial weight off our town and county budgets, and help lower the property tax burden on our families.
Looking out for our first responders and clawing our tax dollars back home is not a Democrat or Republican issue — it’s purely a what’s good for Jersey issue.
Thank you to everyone joining us today, for your service, for fighting for Jersey Values, and for supporting our great communities. By all of us working together, like we are today, I know that our best days will always be ahead of us.
God bless you, God bless our troops and first responders, and may God continue to bless and watch over the United States of America.
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