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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 15, 2005

Schumer: Over $47,000 Coming to Valatie Fire Department in Columbia County

Schumer announces that 12 fire departments and organizations across New York State will receive over $660,000 as part of U.S. Department of Homeland Securities’ FIRE GRANT program

Schumer says federal grant will help pay for fire operations and fire safety in tough fiscal times

In March, Schumer fought to restore $400 million to the FIRE grants program which would be cut under the Administration

US Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced over $47,000 in federal funds for Valatie Fire Department in Columbia County to pay for fire operations and fire safety. The funds are being awarded through the Assistance to Firefighters program administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The grant was part of the fifth round of DHS FY 2005 grants across the country, with more rounds to come.

" This is fantastic news for Columbia County," said Schumer. "While slashed budgets in the face of a weak economy have threatened to harm the quality of fire protection, these federal funds will help make sure that firefighters are provided with the equipment and training that will keep them as safe as possible and allow them to do their jobs well."

A Schumer analysis of the Administration's federal budget for FY05 found that cuts to the program could shortchange New York fire departments by $16 million. In March, Schumer urged the Congress and the White House to bolster the Administration's proposal by sending the full $900 million promised to fire departments by Congress.

At Schumer's urging, fire departments and emergency services providers across New York have taken advantage of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, which sends funds directly for activities such as specialized emergency response training for situations like terrorist attacks; the creation of wellness and fitness programs for firefighters; equipment and facility upgrades; new fire trucks; and fire prevention programs.

"If ever our local fire departments needed an infusion of cash from the federal government, that time is now," Schumer said. "Budget gaps are worse than they've been in a long time with little relief in sight, and the strain on local fire departments is becoming too much to bear. Now the communities in and around Valatie can be comforted by the fact that their first responders will be as well prepared as possible for any emergency situation."

The grant program, called the USFA Grants to Firefighters Program, awards grants directly to fire departments to enhance their ability to protect the health and safety of the public, as well as that of firefighting personnel, facing fire and fire-related hazards.

The USFA awards the grants on a competitive basis to the applicants that most closely address the program's priorities and demonstrate financial need. Funding is available for activities such as specialized emergency response training for situations like terrorist attacks; the creation of wellness and fitness programs for firefighters; equipment and facility upgrades; and fire prevention programs.

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