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Senators Secured Funding Will Help Irondequoit Fire Department Purchase New Air Packs to Protect Hard-Working Firefighters From Harmful Toxins

Schumer Helped Create The AFG & SAFER Grant Which Delivered Today’s Funding – And Says Boosts Like This Are Why He Is Fought Pass The Fire Grants And Safety Act In The Senate To Save The Program From Being Eliminated This Year

Schumer, Gillibrand: Fed $$$ Will Help Protect The Brave Firefighters That Keep Monroe County Safe

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $475,454 in federal funding for the Irondequoit Fire District to purchase 55 new air packs for their firefighters, replacing the worn-out equipment they previously used and helping the newly-consolidated fire district keep its firefighters safe while they work to protect the community. The funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program. Schumer and Gillibrand led the charge in the Senate to save these federal firefighting programs that are set to expire at the end of this year which delivered this funding to Irondequoit.

“From being on the frontline during COVID to fighting fires, our Monroe County firefighters work non-stop keeping our communities safe. I am proud to deliver this major over $475,000 federal boost so firefighters in the Irondequoit Fire District can stay safe while providing aid to the surrounding community and protecting critical infrastructure in the area,” said Senator Schumer. “I’ve fought my whole career to bring more federal resources to support our brave firefighters and today’s funding will keep the Irondequoit and the Greater Rochester Area prepared to take on any emergency.”

“Our firefighters work tirelessly to keep New York communities safe,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This funding will help ensure that Monroe County firefighters are equipped with the resources they need to effectively respond to any emergency situation. I will continue to fight to ensure that federal resources are available to support our firefighters so they can continue to keep New Yorkers safe.”

Irondequoit Fire District Chief Steven Sessler said, "The Irondequoit Fire District would like to thank Senator Schumer for helping to secure the funding needed to acquire new air packs, which will ensure we have the equipment we need to continue to protect the residents of Irondequoit and keep our firefighters safe.”

Schumer and Gillibrand explained the funding will go towards purchasing 55 new air packs for the newly-merged Irondequoit Fire District. Studies have shown that without the use of air packs, firefighters may be overexposed to irritants, chemical asphyxiants, and carcinogens. Without using air packs, firefighters are at risk for smoke inhalation, which causes respiratory issues and increases the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Prolonged exposure to smoke can lead to immediate threats, such as carbon monoxide poisoning and even death. These new, state-of-the-art air packs will enable Irondequoit firefighters to protect their respiratory system from fire, smoke, heat, and toxic gasses, allowing them to do their jobs for extended periods of time under extreme conditions. 

Schumer and Gillibrand have secured millions for the Rochester-Finger Lakes region through the AFG and SAFER grant programs, including over $3.4 million to bolster area fire departments since 2020, and over $80,000 to the Laurelton Fire District (now a part of the new Irondequoit Fire District) in 2022. Schumer originally created the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program in 1999, which funded Irondequoit’s grant today, and which later expanded to also include the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program. Currently though, both the AFG and SAFER program are at risk of being eliminated, endangering millions in funding for Upstate New York Fire Departments.

Earlier this year, Schumer and Gillibrand led the charge to pass the Fire Grants and Safety Act of 2023 in the Senate, which would reauthorize funding for the U.S. Fire Administration, the AFG, and SAFER Grant Program through FY2030. The bill also extends the sunset for both SAFER and AFG from 2024 to 2032. The bill would increase the authorization for the U.S. Fire Administration by about $20 million, while maintaining the authorized funding level for SAFER and AFG at $750 million.

The AFG and SAFER grant programs are administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to purchase essential equipment and help them increase the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities. The grants are awarded on a competitive basis to the applicants that most closely address the program’s priorities and demonstrate financial need.