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Funding Will Research Cardiovascular Health Risks to Firefighters, Minimize Leading Cause of Firefighter Death

Funding Comes From DHS Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program That Aims to Mitigate Incidences of Deaths and Injuries Caused By Fire and Fire-Related Hazards

Schumer: This Research Is Critical- 45% of Line-of-Duty Firefighter Deaths Are the Result of Sudden Cardiac Events

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that Skidmore College has received a federal grant totaling $999,996 as part of Round 5 of the FY10 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The funding is specifically through a Fire Prevention and Safety grant, which Skidmore College plans to use to scientifically study the impact firefighting has on the cardiovascular system. This includes the firefighter's initial call, the act of fire fighting, and the return. Specifically, Skidmore College will study the impact of heat stress and dehydration on a firefighter's cardiovascular health. Schumer highlights the importance of this funding, as cardiovascular events make up 45% of deaths for firefighters in the line of duty, meaning that occurrences such as heart attacks are the number one killer of active firefighters. This funding will also go towards disseminating health information to firefighters that results from the study.

"This essential grant is crucial to understanding and treating the cardiovascular health risks that face our brave firefighters each day on the job," said Schumer. "Our firefighters are true heroes who deserve not only our respect, but the very best safety and health resources we can offer. I am confident that Skidmore College will do valuable research with this funding, to help bring down the number of firefighters being hurt or killed by sudden cardiac events."

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 Fire Prevention and Safety Grants (FP&S) are part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG), and are under the purview of the Grant Programs Directorate in the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FP&S Grants support projects that enhance the safety of the public and firefighters from fire and related hazards. The primary goal is to target highrisk populations and reduce injury and prevent death. In 2005, Congress reauthorized funding for FP&S and expanded the eligible uses of funds to include Firefighter Safety Research and Development.

Schumer added: "We can never truly repay our first responders for their heroic efforts and dedication to duty. But we can make certain that those firefighters get the best medical treatment when their health is put at risk on the job. This federal money will ensure that the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect us get the resources they need to keep themselves and our communities safe."

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.