WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved $9 million in federal financing in the form of a low-interest loan through the Office of Rural Development program for the City of Wildwood to build a new 24,000 square foot firehouse.

“Every single day, firefighters put their lives on the line to protect entire communities and keep people out of danger,” said Sen. Menendez. “This is a critical loan that will ensure Wildwood firefighters have the tools necessary to protect the city’s year-long residents and the vacationers that flock there during the summer.”

“New Jersey’s brave firefighters need resources and upgraded facilities as they respond to emergency calls and keep residents safe,” said Sen. Booker. “Creating a new facility for the fire department in Wildwood will help improve response times to protect the lives and property of New Jerseyans.”

The Wildwood Fire Department, which is comprised of 20 paid firefighters and eight volunteers, has been operating out of a decades-old facility, with no room to expand. Without modern equipment and infrastructure, the fire department has been struggling to safely and effectively do their job of protecting the community.

Last year, Sen. Menendez and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. celebrated the passage of their Firefighter Cancer Registry Act at an Englewood firehouse. $1 million in federal funding was appropriated last year to implement the cancer registry for firefighters diagnosed with the deadly disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) registry will allow researchers to monitor and study the relationship between career-long exposure to dangerous fumes and toxins and the incidence of cancer in firefighters to determine if there is a link, and to develop better protective gear and prevention techniques.

Sens. Menendez and Booker have been strong advocates of the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) grants and Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG). Since 2006, New Jersey has received more than $251 million in SAFER grants, which supports the hiring of career firefighters and the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. Since it was established in 2001, New Jersey has received over $180million in funding from the AFG program to enhance response capabilities, as well as to more effectively protect the health and safety of the public and emergency response personnel.