FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 16, 2011

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES NEARLY $1 MILLION IN FEDERAL FIRE GRANTS COMING TO VAILS GATE FIRE DEPT; WITH FUNDS, VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS WILL RECEIVE COLLEGE TUITION ASSISTANCE


Funding Comes From DHS SAFER Grant Program That Promotes and Maintains Adequate Staffing and Training at Volunteer Fire Departments

Vails Gate Firefighters Will Be Recruited and Will Receive College Tuition Assistance With Federal Funds

Schumer Has Continually Pushed for Funding to Assist Fire Departments and First Responders

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Vails Gate Fire Department (VGFD) will receive a grant totaling $986,080 in Round 16 of the FY10 AFG Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program. These federal funds will allow the Vails Gate Fire Department to offer college tuition assistance as an incentive to attract new talented members, to retain experienced members and to encourage high school and college age dependents to volunteer.  Over a four year period, these funds allow for 17 new volunteer recruits and college tuition assistance to 27 existing members and eligible family members.  AFG awards are administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and are designed to strengthen the response programs of fire departments throughout the country by promoting and maintaining 24-hour staffing, particularly in volunteer fire departments.

"Our firefighters keep our families and businesses safe, and with these federal funds more brave men and women will be recruited and rewarded for doing this life-saving work” Schumer said. “Today, the people of Vails Gate can sleep easier knowing that more firefighters will be on the job.”        

The Vails Gate Fire Department is an all volunteer fire department that provides primary fire, rescue and hazard protection services to 30,000 residents and thousands of others that travel through and work in our fire district.  The VGFD operates out of two fire stations and covers 35 square miles of single and multifamily dwellings, commercial buildings, landmarks, colleges, hotels, and federal and state structures. Vails Gate Fire Dept. also covers portions of the New York State Thruway, the Hudson River, Metro North Commuter railroad and Stewart Airport and Air National Guard Base.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP) provides funding to local fire departments to help them 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.

This Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program is part of Round 16 of the AFG Program and 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.

Today’s federal funds awarded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will allow the Vails Gate Fire Department to recruit new firefighters and provide college tuition assistance to the new and existing members.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Programs are 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.  More information on the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program can be accessed at http://www.firegrantsupport.com/ . 

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