WASHINGTON, DC – Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), co-chair of the House Fire Services Caucus, today announced that the Passaic Fire Department has been awarded a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for $1,212,209. It will be used to add eight firefighters to the department, bolstering Passaic’s firefighting capabilities.

“New Jersey firefighters risk their lives to protect ours - the very least we can do is ensure that they are fully prepared and equipped to protect themselves, and that their departments are adequately staffed to keep our communities safe.” said Sen. Menendez. “I am proud of Passaic’s firefighters for all the work they do and I’m deeply grateful for their sacrifice. I will continue to work to secure grants like these so that New Jersey families can rest easy knowing our firefighters can effectively and safely protect their families and homes.”

“We not only owe the brave men and women in New Jersey’s firehouses a debt of gratitude, but also our steadfast support,” said Sen. Booker. “In order for our local firefighters to continue keeping themselves and our families safe, they need to have adequate resources. This federal investment will help bolster the Passaic Fire Department’s staffing and let them know that they will never stand alone.”

“When writing the SAFER Act, we prioritized the safety of our cities and towns as they continue to face the difficulties of budget cuts. Awards like this allow for our communities to retain and expand their fire services for years to come,” said Rep. Pascrell. “Adequate staffing is pivotal to the work of our firefighters, in terms of both response time and situational preparedness. Every moment in a fire emergency can mean the difference between life or death, so the importance of this federal investment in Passaic cannot be overstated.”

"Public safety is a top priority, and I applaud Congressman Pascrell's efforts in Washington fighting for these federal dollars,” said Passaic Mayor Hector Lora. “These grant funds allow the city to hire at least eight new firefighters, helping to keep fire services running efficiently and keeping our families safer, while at the same time lessening the burden on local taxpayers."

“With this grant, our Department will be able add eight new firefighters to the force. We thank Congressman Pascrell for helping to secure this money for our Department so that our staffing level will continue to match the demands of keeping our community safe,” said Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost.

Rep. Pascrell was a main author in the House of Representatives of the SAFER Act, which became law in 2003, and the FIRE (Firefighter Investment Response Enhancement) Act which makes grants to local fire departments. Combined, they have provided billions of dollars in funding for fire departments across the country for staffing, equipment, and training needs.

Background on AFG and SAFER Grant programs

Congress created these grant programs to help address the significant staffing, equipment, training, and health and safety needs of fire departments across the United States. The SAFER grant program provides funding to cover the costs associated with hiring personnel to maintain safe staffing levels. When Rep. Pascrell first introduced the FIRE Act in 1999, it was the first comprehensive legislation dedicated to meet the special needs of America's 32,000 volunteer, paid and part-paid fire departments.