SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND ANNOUNCE OVER $574,000 IN FED FUNDING FOR THE CORTLAND, MARATHON AND WILLET FIRE DEPARTMENTS TO PURCHASE NEW EQUIPMENT TO HELP PROTECT FIREFIGHTERS AND KEEP COMMUNITY SAFE
Senators Say Funding Will Help Protect The Cortland, Marathon, and Willet Fire Departments, Which Collectively Have Over 125 Active Members Serving A Population Of Over 20,000 Residents; CFD Are The First-Due Responders For An Area Of 4 Square Miles, Providing Aid To A Mostly Urban Community And Protecting Critical Infrastructure In The Area
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 Cortland Community Safe
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $574,545 in federal funding for the City of Cortland to purchase new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help keep firefighters in the Cortland, Marathon, and Willet Fire Department’s safe while working 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 Cortland.
“From being on the frontline during COVID to fighting fires, our Cortland firefighters work non-stop keeping our communities safe. That is why when I heard our fire departments were struggling to secure enough protective equipment for their hardworking firefighters, I promised to deliver the fed dollars to give our heroes the support they need. So I am proud to deliver this major over $574,000 federal boost so firefighters in the Cortland, Marathon, and Willet Fire Departments 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 Fire Department’s across Cortland County 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 Cortland 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.”
"The award of this Assistance to Firefighters grant to the City of Cortland is critical to the safety of our firefighters, and ultimately to our fire department’s ability to protect the residents of Cortland. The self-contained breathing apparatuses that this award will fund are part of the basic equipment needed by all firefighters to do their job. The financial commitment represented by this grant saves the City of Cortland hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and maintenance costs,” said Cortland Fire Department Chief Wayne Friedman. “I cannot thank Senator Schumer enough for coming through time and time again for the Cortland Fire Department. His hard work and efforts are appreciated by our entire community.”
“I would like thank Senator Chuck Schumer for his support on the AFG regional grant for the Marathon, City of Cortland, and Willet Fire Departments for replacement of air packs,” said Marathon Fire Department Chief Norm Forrest. “Receiving this grant couldn't have come at a more convenient time as it will replace our 15 year old air packs that are continually having maintenance issues. Also, this grant is a huge saving to our tax payers. The district will only be responsible to cover 10% of the cost for our 17 new SCBA packs, spare bottles and face pieces.”
“This AFG award is a huge win for a small fire department like ours with limited financial resources. Some of our SCBAs are 25 years old, and with costs spiking in recent years it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep them operational,” said Town of Willet Fire Department Chief Greg McGowan. “It would be almost impossible for us to afford these new SCBAs without this award. Thank you to Senator Schumer for his hard work to secure this funding - it will not soon be forgotten by our fire department or our community.”
Schumer and Gillibrand explained the funding will go towards purchasing new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the Cortland Fire Department (CFD), Marathon Fire Department (MFD), and Willet Fire Department (WFD). More specifically, the funds will be used to purchase new self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs) in line with modern safety standards. SCBAs protect firefighter’s respiratory systems, and they are required for firefighters to operate in environments that are immediately dangerous to life and health, including low oxygen or toxic environments. These new SCBAs will replacing the outdated SCBAs currently being used by the department, which are past their useful life and require expensive maintenance to keep operational. Using these funds, the Cortland Fire Department expects to receive 52 new SCBAs, the Marathon Fire Department will receive 17 new SCBAs, and the Willet Fire Department will receive 10 new SCBAs.
This new equipment will ensure the region is in compliance with the National Response Framework established by the Department of Homeland Security. CFD is a combination district with 64 active, paid members serving a population of over 17,500 with a seasonal increase in population of 7,300. CFD are the first-due responders for an area of 4 square miles, providing aid to a mostly urban community and protecting critical infrastructure in the area. MFD has approximately 50 active members serving a population of over 4,500 people across the Village of Marathon, Town of Marathon, Town of Lapeer, and much of Freetown. WFD has 15 active members serving a population of just under 1,000 across over 26 square miles.
Schumer and Gillibrand have secured millions for Cortland through the AFG and SAFER grant programs, including over $400,000 this past March to help the city recruit and train the next generation of firefighters. Schumer originally created the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program in 1999, which funded Cortland’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 maintain 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.
A copy of Schumer’s letter of support to Secretary Mayorkas for Cortland appears below:
Dear Secretary Mayorkas:
I am pleased to write in support of the application (EMW-2022-FG-06809) submitted by the City of Cortland Fire Department (CFD) for funding through the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program.
The Cortland Fire Department is located in Cortland County, New York. CFD is a combination district with 64 active, paid members serving a population of over 17,500 with a seasonal increase in population of 7,300. CFD are the first-due responders for an area of 4 square miles, providing aid to a mostly urban community and protecting critical infrastructure in the area.
With funding, CFD will purchase new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This new PPE will ensure the region is in compliance with the National Response Framework established by the Department of Homeland Security.
I applaud the Cortland Fire Department for its foresight, and sincerely hope the application meets with your approval.
Thank you for your consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my Grants Coordinator in my Washington, DC office at 202-224-6542.