RELEASE: Gottheimer, Murphy Announces New Federal Investment for Jersey Fire Departments, EMTs, First Responders

May 16, 2022
Press

Invests in Life-saving Equipment, Helps Lower Local Tax Burden on Families

Made possible by American Rescue Plan passed by Congress

Above: Gottheimer announcing the American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant Program in Hackensack today.

HACKENSACK, NJ — Today, May 16, 2022, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), along with Governor Phil Murphy, state and local elected officials, firefighters, first responders, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, and the New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association, announced the new American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant Program, which is clawing federal investment back from Washington for New Jersey firefighters. These new resources will not only keep our communities, families, and brave first responders safe, but it will also help lower our property taxes and make life more affordable for North Jersey residents. 

Nationwide, 44 firefighters have already lost their lives this year – including, sadly, one on-duty death in New Jersey.

The new American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant Program will:

  • Claw $10 million in federal dollars back from Washington for New Jersey fire departments — to protect our communities, our families, firefighters, and EMTs.
  • Award up to $75,000 to eligible local and regional fire departments in New Jersey to purchase equipment including oxygen packs, PPE, protective clothing and turnout gear, and cleaning and sanitizing equipment. 
  • Claw back federal dollars to our local fire departments, particularly for smaller departments where resources are limited and help fire departments with limited operating budgets and large numbers of volunteers.

This new federal investment was made possible by the American Rescue Plan that Congress passed last year.

“We’re now clawing back even more federal dollars to support our local fire departments and first responders, particularly for our smaller ones where resources are even more stretched. This critical investment will not only keep our communities, families, and brave first responders safe, but it will also help lower our property taxes and make life more affordable for Jersey families,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “The new American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant program claws critical federal resources back from Washington for Jersey fire departments – to protect our communities, our families, firefighters, and EMTs. We must always get the backs of our first responders.”

“Today’s announcement of the Firefighter Grant Program reinforces yet again that, in New Jersey, our first responders’ physical and mental well-being are critical priorities,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “It was an honor to stand in the great city of Hackensack today alongside my esteemed colleagues, our fearless first responders, and Congressman Gottheimer. The congressman’s leadership in Washington, as well as his unwavering commitment to our firefighters, was pivotal to the creation of this program.”

“Congressman Gottheimer, who I can tell you right now, is at the forefront of every issue we have — every issue, whether it’s firefighter safety or fairness  in how we govern — he’s there for us every step of the way,” said International Association of Fire Fighters General President Edward Kelly today.

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, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act. Gottheimer was an original cosponsor of this bipartisan legislation and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, Co-Chaired by Gottheimer, endorsed the bill and called for swift floor passage with bipartisan support.
  • Last week, 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 $5.3 million dollars in Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) for life-saving firefighting equipment, more than $945,000 in Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants and other fire department grants to help departments attract and retain volunteer firefighters, more than $2.77 million in community policing (COPS) grants to help towns hire new police officers, and in 2020, he helped claw back $3.5 million worth of equipment through the LESO 1033 excess resources program.
  • This year, Gottheimer introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Invest to Protect Act — which will make critical, targeted investments in recruiting and retaining the best talent, training, safety, body cameras, and for the mental health of our officers.

Gottheimer was joined today at the Hackensack Fire House by Governor Phil Murphy, Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, Assemblywoman Shama Haider, Bergen County Executive James Tedesco, Bergen County Commissioner Mary Amoroso, Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse, International Association of Fire Fighters General President Edward Kelly, Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey President Steve McConlogue, New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association Vice-President Kyle Hughes, Hackensack firefighters, EMTs, and law enforcement.

Video of the announcement can be found here.

Below: Gottheimer with local first responders.

Below: Gottheimer with International Association of Firefighters General President Edward Kelly.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery: 

I join the Governor in my outrage about the tragedy in Buffalo.

I’d like to begin by thanking all our brave first responders for everything you 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, including all you did through the COVID-19 pandemic these last years. Helping others has always been the motivating force of a heroic firefighter – they run directly into the fire and danger when others are running out. And because of that, we must always get their backs – and that’s exactly why we are here today. To protect you — and to protect our communities. 

I couldn’t be happier that we are all here together — the Governor, local elected officials, first responders, and union leadership — here in the best congressional district in the state, to announce a new $10 million federal investment that we’re clawing back from Washington for New Jersey firefighters. This critical investment will not only keep our communities, families, and brave first responders safe, but it will also help lower our property taxes and make life more affordable for the residents here. 

Years ago, my first event as a Member of Congress was actually at a firehouse in Teaneck, not too far from here. As I had during my campaign, I listened intently that day to what the firefighters told me they needed to protect themselves and our families — and, then, I went to work.  

My first day on the job, I asked to join the Congressional Fire Services Caucus.

Since then, like they do for us, I’m proud to have fought tirelessly for legislation that supports our first responders, including 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, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act. 

Just last Wednesday, I was proud to help pass the bipartisan Federal Firefighters Fair Act through the House of Representatives — legislation I cosponsored — guaranteeing our firefighters have access to critical disability and retirement benefits they deserve after putting their lives on the line for us.

Here in North Jersey especially, we will always stand in the shadows of 9/11, and remember the 750 New Jersey souls we lost that day and those we lost since — including two here in this department.

Nationwide, this year alone we’ve already lost 44 firefighters – including, sadly, one on-duty death in our state. 

Our firefighters put their lives on the line for us each and every day, so, it goes without saying, that we must do everything we can to protect them and to honor the fallen. It’s why we have also fought so hard for the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, 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. 

Today, working with Governor Murphy, Lieutenant Governor Oliver, and our state, local, and federal elected officials, we are clawing back even more federal dollars to our local fire departments, here in Hackensack and for our smaller volunteer departments where resources are even more stretched.

As the Governor said, the new American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant program, claws $10 million in federal dollars back from Washington for Jersey fire departments – to protect our communities, our families, and our firefighters. This new investment was made possible by the Federal American Rescue Plan that Congress passed last year. 

The new firefighter program will award up to $75,000 to eligible local and regional fire departments in New Jersey to purchase equipment including oxygen packs, PPE, protective clothing and turnout gear, and cleaning and sanitizing equipment. 

This investment will particularly help fire departments with limited operating budgets and large numbers of volunteers, and, as I have since day one, I will work closely with all of the fire departments in my District, including Hackensack, to help them get what they need. 

Overall, here in the Fifth District, whether that’s helping our fire departments, EMTs, law enforcement, and beyond, we are up more than 112 percent in the federal tax dollars that we’ve clawed back to Jersey from Washington and away from the Moocher States since I was elected. These dollars take a major financial weight off our town and county budgets, and help lower the property tax burden on our families.

Working with our mayors, councils, and departments, we’ve clawed back $5.3 million dollars in Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) for life-saving firefighting equipment since 2016, including $510,000 for Hackensack, Englewood, and Teaneck Fire Departments for rapid intervention training.

We’ve landed more than $945,000 in SAFER and other fire department grants to help departments attract and retain volunteer firefighters.

On top of that, the COPS — or community policing — grant program has helped us claw back more than $2.77 million to help towns here in the Fifth hire new police officers.  

Also, the resources we’ve clawed back through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill are already helping improve our roads and bridges, water infrastructure, NJ Transit, and helping build the Gateway Tunnel.

I’m also continuing to fight for our local police departments in Congress with my bipartisan, bicameral Invest to Protect Act — which will make critical, targeted investments in recruiting and retaining the best talent, training, safety, body cameras, and for the mental health of our officers. To make our communities safe, we need to fund – not defund – law enforcement. 

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. It’s about our safety, lower taxes, and helping make life more affordable.

By all of us working together, like we are today, I know that our best days will always be ahead of us.

Thank you to everyone joining us today, for your service, for fighting for Jersey values, and for supporting our great communities. 

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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