FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 2, 2010
SCHUMER, MURPHY ANNOUNCE FEDERAL FUNDS TO BRING LAID OFF SARATOGA FIRE FIGHTERS BACK TO WORK
Fire Fighters Who Were Laid Off Due to Tight Budgets Will Now Be Back on the Job Due to Federal Funding
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Congressman Scott Murphy announced that the Saratoga Springs Fire Department has been awarded $663,705 in federal funding that will allow the department to bring back or replace 7 firefighters who were laid off earlier this year due to budget cuts. The funding comes from the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) SAFER program which works to allow fire departments across the country to hire more fire fighters. Schumer and Murphy personally urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide the funds.
Standing at Saratoga Springs Fire Department, Schumer and Murphy were joined by Mayor Scott Johnson, Commissioner of Public Safety Richard Wirth, Chief Robert Williams and members of the Saratoga Springs Fire Department. They marked the occasion of these local first responders getting back in the firehouse and stressed the importance of federal funding for fire departments across the state.
“Providing for the safety and security of the population is one of the most fundamental obligations of government, and these funds will allow the brave men and women standing with me to do just that” said Schumer. “By putting firefighters back to work, we are not only improving the safety of all Saratogians, but preventing them from having to shoulder the costs of training new firefighters as the economy recovers.
“This funding for the Saratoga Springs Fire Department is absolutely critical,” said Rep. Murphy. “Communities across Upstate New York, including Saratoga Springs, are facing strained budgets during these tough economic times. That’s why I am proud to have supported this grant to get them the resources they need to rehire these firefighters. Our firefighters are the best our communities have to offer – they put their lives on the line for us, and they deserve all the support we can give them.”
This year, the Saratoga Springs Fire Department applied to the SAFER program with a plan to use the funding to bring back or replace firefighters that had to be laid off due to budget cuts. The fire department approached Senator Schumer and Congressman Murphy and asked for their assistance in getting the funding. Schumer and Murphy wrote a letter to DHS and pressed the agency to fund the Saratoga Springs application.
Adding more firefighters to the Saratoga Springs fire department will not only increase safety in the area but also boost the local economy by putting people back to work and protecting some of the area’s most important assets- its older, historic buildings. These historic buildings and Victorian homes are a major attraction for people looking to move to the region and form the bedrock of Saratoga’s culture.
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program is intended to support the hiring of firefighters and the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. SAFER grants are administered to enhance the ability of grantees to attain and maintain 24-hour staffing and to assure that their communities have adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. The objective of the Hiring of Firefighters activity is to award grants directly to volunteer, combination, and career fire departments to help the departments increase the number of frontline firefighters. The objective of the Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters activity is to create a more favorable working environment for volunteer firefighters. The primary focus of this activity is to enlist and/or retain volunteer firefighters who are trained in the operations of firefighting and emergency response.
Schumer added, "Fire protection is important everywhere but especially in Saratoga where the irreplaceable architecture and beautiful homes are its lifeblood. And the city is growing too. There have been hundreds of new housing units built in just the past few years. These properties and of course the people who live in them must be protected adequately"