July 13, 2015

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Over $560K In Federal Funding For City Of Norwich Fire Department In Chenango County

Federal Funding For The City of Norwich Fire Department Will Be Used to Hire Three New Firefighters

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced today $560,694 in federal funding for the City of Norwich Fire Department in Chenango County. The money was allocated through the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program. The federal funding will enable the department to hire three new, full-time firefighters, allowing the City of Norwich to increase the number of firefighters on duty from a four-person shift to a five-person shift. 

“These much-needed federal funds will provide the assistance the City of Norwich Fire Department needs to maintain and expand its fire department. Our first responders are our primary line of defense – they safeguard our residents and protect our property. That’s why it is crucial we provide them the support they need to hire an adequate number of staff so they can do their jobs to the best of their ability and keep the community safe,” said Senator Schumer.

“This federal funding will enable the Norwich Fire Department’s to hire additional firefighters,” said Senator Gillibrand. “When we’re able maintain and create positions for first responders, we can respond to more emergencies and help save more lives. I will continue working to ensure our first responders have the tools and resources they need to keep our communities safe.”

Schumer and Gillibrand explained these federal funds, which will enable the fire department to employ an increased number of firefighters per shift, were desperately needed in the City of Norwich. Given the fact that the department’s overall budget has recently been reduced, the need was particularly acute. The Senators said these additional firefighters are needed to protect the 65-square mile area, which includes state highways, a 20-mile stretch of the Chenango River, and approximately one-third of the county’s residents. The department currently houses career and volunteer firefighters and regularly provides aide to the eight other neighboring departments.

“This is great news for the Fire Department, the City of Norwich and the surrounding communities we serve,” said Tracy Chawgo, Chief for the City of Norwich Fire Department. “We are very excited.”

The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations in order to help them increase the number of trained, "front line" firefighters available in their communities. The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments' abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

A copy of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand’s letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson on behalf of the City of Norwich Fire Department appears below:

Dear Secretary Johnson: 

I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by the City of Norwich Fire Department for funding through FEMA’sStaffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program. Such funding will enable the Norwich Fire Department to hire three additional firefighters. 

Based in the heart of Chenango County, the Norwich Fire Department is responsible for protecting a 65-square mile area that includes state highways, a 20-mile stretch of the Chenango River, and approximately one-third of the county’s residents.  With both career and volunteer firefighters, the Department serves the commercial and governmental hub of the county, including the headquarters of Chobani Greek Yogurt and Norwich Pharma services, UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital, Lt. Warren Eaton Airport, and various schools, nursing homes, and governmental facilities.  The Department also regularly provides automatic and mutual aid to eight other neighboring departments.  There are no additional funds for hiring, and the Department’s overall budget has recently been reduced.  Furthermore, many volunteer members cannot maintain NFPA 1001 and 1002 training levels, forcing the Department to increasingly rely on career firemen.

With funding, the Norwich Fire Department will hire three additional career firefighters, increasing safety levels for both the Department’s firefighters and the community at large.  Funding will allow the Department to reach full coverage on each shift and ensure a more robust immediate response. In addition, the new personnel will be cross-trained as paramedics to assist in response to the increasing number of ambulance and rescue calls.  With an expanded staff, the Norwich Fire Department will improve response times while increasing the quality of first response in the area.  I applaud the Norwich Fire Department for its foresight and sincerely hope the application meets with your approval.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator