U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $690,390 in federal funding for the City of Kingston Fire Department. The money was allocated through the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program. This funding will allow the City of Kingston Fire Department to expand its emergency services capabilities by hiring four new firefighters.
“Whether it’s a fire, flood, car accident, or when disaster strikes, we depend on these local heroes in Kingston to keep us safe, and they depend on us to give them the resources they need to do their jobs effectively,” said Senator Schumer. “The addition of four new professional firefighters will help the City of Kingston Fire Department reverse several years of cuts, and ensure it can respond to any situation quickly and efficiently. I’m proud to announce this grant and will continue working to make sure New York’s first responders have what they need.”
“These federal funds will help provide our firefighters in Ulster County with the tools they need to respond to emergency situations,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am very pleased that this funding was awarded to the City of Kingston Fire Department; hiring additional firefighters will help the fire department better serve the community. I will continue to fight in the Senate to make sure more of our local fire departments have the resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.”
“On behalf of the City of Kingston, I want to thank Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand for their assistance in securing this funding. This grant will allow the City of Kingston to add additional firefighters at a time when our budgets are continuing to be constrained. This will make our city safer and even more responsive when our men and women are called to duty,” said Kingston Mayor Steve Noble.
“The City of Kingston Fire Department is incredibly appreciative to Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand for helping to secure this funding for our department. The City of Kingston values the safety of its residents as our #1 priority, and with more resources, we will be able to ensure that this safety isn’t jeopardized,” said City of Kingston Fire Chief Mark Brown.
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER), established by FEMA within the Department of Homeland Security, was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations 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 Schumer’s letter appears below:
Dear Secretary John F. Kelly,
I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by the Naples Volunteer Fire Department (NVFD) for funding through the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants (EMW-2016-FH-00346). Such funding will enable KFD to hire four additional firefighters.
Since 2008, KFD has been steadily losing both career and volunteer members. With 49 career and 5 volunteer, the department relies upon surrounding communities’ volunteer firefighters to remain NFPA 1710 compliant. However, this happens less than 50% of the time due to a lack of volunteers. Since 2008, the City of Kingston’s property values have declined by $660 million, and tax revenues have accordingly reduced. With calls for service rising year-to-year across City departments, and falling tax revenues, the City of Kingston is struggling to maintain NFPA compliance.
With funding, the City of Kingston Fire Department will hire four additional firefighters. The assistance of additional firefighters means KFD members will be working in a safer environment, and will ease the burden of surrounding communities’ volunteer fire departments. I applaud the City of Kingston for its foresight, and sincerely hope the application meets with your approval.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
Senator Gillibrand’s letter to FEMA is included here.