FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 1, 2007
Schumer Backs Norwich Fire Department Effort To Acquire Desperately Needed New Fire Truck
Trucks Are Rusted and Cracked and Firefighters are Forced to Use Vehicles that are More Than 20-Years Old
Schumer Calls on Feds to Approve Additional Federal FIRE Grant Funding for Norwich
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today wrote to the to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in support of the application submitted by the City of Norwich Fire Department for funding under the 2007 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program toward the purchase of a new fire truck and new equipment. Many of the trucks currently used by the Norwich Department are cracked, rusted or contain equipment that must be replaced from excessive use. This funding would enable the City of Norwich FD to purchase a much needed new fire truck.
"The firefighters in Norwich risk their lives every day to keep our communities safe," said Schumer. "While we can never truly repay them for their heroic efforts, we can ensure that they have the resources and equipment they need to do their jobs safely and efficiently. The feds need to step up to the plate to give the Norwich Fire Department the assistance they need and deserve." The Norwich FD has eighty active career and volunteer members. The department serves a rural area covering sixty-five square miles, including three pharmaceutical facilities, six educational buildings, five assisted living facilities, several apartment complexes, and many other well populated structures, along with two major state routes that run through the district.
Due to the rural nature of the region, the closest mutual-aid fire departments are fifteen to thirty minutes away. Currently, the City of Norwich Fire Department is using an outdated pumper vehicle from 1986 as well as a 2000 pumper with severe maintenance problems.
With funding, the City of Norwich Fire Department will replace the 1986 vehicle with a new pumper/rescue apparatus. The new vehicle will also allow the company to place the problem-plagued 2000 pumper in reserve. As the protectors of a rural area of 11,591 people, the Norwich firefighters need a safe, up-to-date vehicle that will allow them to do their job and keep the citizens of Norwich and the surrounding areas safe from harm.
Schumer today sent a personal letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff asking him to approve the additional funds for both the new truck and additional equipment. The Norwich FD applied for the funding through the FIRE Grants program administered by DHS. A new fire truck could cost the city anywhere from $90,000 to $200,000.
Schumer was among the first senators who recognized the need for the federal government to establish a funding program for local governments and fire departments to help defray the rising costs of equipment and fire prevention.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP) assists local fire departments in programs and activities to improve the effectiveness of firefighting operations through specialized emergency training for response to situations like terrorist attacks; enhancement of emergency medical services programs; development of health and safety initiatives; establishment of fire education and prevention programs; creation of wellness and fitness programs; and equipment and facility upgrades. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is administered by the Department of Homeland Security in cooperation with the Department's United States Fire Administration. The grants are awarded on a competitive basis to the applicants that most closely address the program's priorities and demonstrate financial need.