First application filed by squad nets $24,092 for new equipment

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) today announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded a new federal FIRE Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) grant to the Totowa Emergency Medical Services (EMS) squad in the amount of $24,092. The grant will help the squad buy new patient transport equipment for Totowa’s first-responders.

“The EMT’s in Totowa are well-deserving of these federal dollars,” stated Pascrell, who introduced the Firefighter Investment Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act in March 1999. “The FIRE Act was written here in the Eighth Congressional District with the purpose of helping communities like Totowa support their first responders. For too long, the federal government turned a deaf ear to the pressing needs of firefighters and other first-responders. This grant demonstrates that through the FIRE Act, we have changed that shortsighted policy.”

Totowa EMS Captain Matthew Barbieri said the grant would be used for the purchase of two new powered stretchers and two stair-chairs, which will help move patients in a manner that is safer for them as well as the squad members.

“We’re extremely excited about this funding and grateful to the congressman for acquiring it,” said Barbieri, who added it was the first time the squad ever applied for an AFG grant. “We need this equipment very badly, especially since donations are down this year due to the economy. We’re happy we can upgrade our services to the town’s residents and businesses.”

Totowa’s EMS squad has 30 members, all of whom are volunteers, Barbieri said. The squad is responsible for responding to 911 calls in the borough.

This is the fourth AFG grant to be awarded to Totowa. The previous three were as follows:

· 2003: $196,959 to the fire Department for operations and safety

· 2005: $54,143 to the fire Department to modify facilities

· 2007: $167,950 to the fire department for equipment and protective gear

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the AFG program, which makes direct grants to fire departments to purchase equipment, training, firefighting vehicles, and other fire fighting and fire prevention activities. It also funds Fire Prevention and Safety Grants which are used for fire awareness and prevention activities, as well as fire safety related research.

Pascrell’s AFG program started with a $100 million appropriation in fiscal year 2001. With broad bipartisan support, the U.S. House of Representatives reauthorized the AFG program with $1 billion from 2010 to 2014.