DCA awards $10M in grants to 293 NJ fire departments

TRENTON, NJ — The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs announced Nov. 11 the award of $10 million in American Rescue Plan firefighter grants to local and regional fire departments across New Jersey to ensure firefighters have proper protective, cleaning and sanitizing equipment during this time of heightened community need. The grants were awarded to 293 fire departments in the state after a competitive application process.

“Equipping our firefighters with the proper gear is crucial to allowing them to safely and successfully do their jobs,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “The health and safety of our essential workers is of the utmost importance to this administration. I am grateful to DCA for recognizing these departments’ needs and awarding funding to provide this equipment.”

“Having appropriate gear, clothing and equipment is critical for firefighters’ physical and mental health, particularly for those who serve in fire departments with limited operating budgets and large numbers of volunteers,” said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA commissioner. “For this reason, DCA is proud to help fire departments pay for these important resources so firefighters can safely and effectively serve the people in their communities.”

Fire departments will use the grant funding to help cover costs associated with the purchases of protective clothing, such as turnout clothing ensembles, pants, garments, helmets, hoods, gloves, footwear, etc.; advanced cleaning equipment; oxygen equipment; personal protective equipment; and other fire/virus protection equipment as determined to be appropriate by DCA’s Division of Local Government Services.

The following grants were awarded in Essex County, Belleville, $29,000; Bloomfield, $32,000; Caldwell, $27,000; East Orange, $41,000; Irvington, $45,000; Millburn, $21,000; Montclair, $24,000; Newark, $51,000; North Caldwell, $22,000; Nutley, $31,000; Orange, $42,000; Verona, $23,000; West Caldwell, $22,000; and West Orange, $35,000.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, firefighters have had to think about viruses in addition to the fire hazards they face during emergency responses,” Division of Local Government Services Director Jacquelyn Suárez said. “These grants will help provide them with the high-quality personal protective equipment and protective clothing ensembles they now need, in addition to helmets, gloves and boots.”

“The heightened anxiety felt by first responders like firefighters during the pandemic is well-documented,” State Fire Marshal and Division of Fire Safety Director Richard Mikutsky said. “Being outfitted with safe gear and clothing helps lessen this stress so that firefighters can better concentrate on the tasks at hand when responding to an emergency call.”

“Firefighters’ constant exposure to deadly toxins and carcinogens has made cancer a leading cause of firefighter fatalities,” said Eddie Donnelly, president of the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association. “The NJ FMBA applauds the Murphy/Oliver administration for working with us to provide funding for important gear replacement and cleaning initiatives.”