Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Nearly $1 Million For City Of Syracuse Fire Department To Train Firefighters To The Level Of EMT & Paramedic To Combat Ongoing Shortages And Keep Community Safe

Aug 10, 2023

Like Many Communities Syracuse Has Been Impacted By EMT Shortages, But Now Senators Have Delivered Critical Fed Funding To Help Syracuse Fire Department Train All Incoming Fire Fighters To The EMT Level And Several Current Firefighters To The Paramedic Level To Bolster Emergency Response

Schumer Helped Create The AFG & SAFER Grants Which Delivered Today’s Funding – And Says Boosts Like This Are Why He Fought To Pass The Fire Grants And Safety Act In The Senate To Save The Program From Lapsing This Year

Schumer, Gillibrand: Fed $$$ Will Help Increase Training For The Brave Firefighters That Keep Syracuse Safe

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $918,953 in federal funding for the City of Syracuse Fire Department to train all incoming fire fighters, as well as current certified first responders, to the EMT level and several current fire fighters to the paramedic level. 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 only authorized for funding through the end of this year, which delivered this funding to Syracuse.

“Our firefighters in Syracuse risk their lives every day to protect our community, the least we can do is ensure they have the best training possible to keep themselves and our community safe. That is why I am proud to deliver this major nearly $1 million federal boost so firefighters in every corner of Syracuse have the skills they need to provide aid to the surrounding community,” said Senator Schumer. “I helped create and protect the AFG program because I know this funding is such a vital lifeline for communities in Central NY, and this is just the latest example of the program delivering for Upstate NY. I’ve fought my whole career to bring more federal resources to support our brave firefighters, including shepherding a reauthorization of AFG through the Senate earlier this year, and today’s funding will keep our Syracuse Fire Department prepared to take on any emergency.”

“New York’s firefighters work tirelessly every day to protect our communities and save lives,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This crucial funding will provide Syracuse’s firefighters with critical training to help them keep area residents safe. I will continue fighting to ensure that New York’s fire departments have what they need to continue defending our communities on the front lines.”

Syracuse Fire Chief Michael Monds said, “I believe this historic grant will ensure that the visitors and citizens of Syracuse receive the highest level of emergency medical services, and this can only occur due to the assistance of AFG funds provided by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand. I am grateful for their unwavering support as the Syracuse Fire Department provides much needed Basic Life Support and Advanced Life Support ambulance transport services, to not only our city, but to the entire region, when called upon. Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand’s support of this grant application allows our dedicated Syracuse Firefighters to attain the highest level of EMS training to continue to provide world class, compassionate emergency services to our region’s constituents.”

Specifically, Schumer and Gillibrand explained the funding will go towards training all incoming Syracuse fire fighters, as well as current certified first responders to the EMT level. This training would consist of an academy style EMT course lasting 23 days including classroom, lab time plus ride along time of two days to complete required patient contacts. Additionally, the funds will be used to train 6 current Syracuse Firefighter EMT’s to the Paramedic level to assist in the staffing of ambulances operated by the Syracuse City Fire Department. Syracuse Firefighter EMT’s will participate in the Upstate University paramedic program to achieve this certification.

The senators explained that like most of the country, the City of Syracuse has been affected by the shortage of emergency medical workers, including Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) and Paramedics. This is resulting in dropped calls and increased response time for ambulance services state and nationwide, which has led to more Syracuse Fire engines responding to fire calls with less personnel because other firefighters are tied up on medical emergencies awaiting transport of their patient by delayed ambulances. As of January 2023, the Syracuse Fire Department began staffing an Advanced Life Support ambulance 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week / 365 days a year, to bolster the ambulance providers in the area. In order to maintain and grow this new critical service, the Syracuse Fire Department will need more EMTs and Paramedics, as the current model is not sustainable and will lead to burn out if not addressed. With the City’s current and anticipated increase in population, economic development, reduction of emergency medical personnel, and transportation challenges, it is essential that the City of Syracuse train firefighters to fill the gap of ambulatory services with EMT’s and Paramedics.

Schumer and Gillibrand have secured millions for the Syracuse Fire Department through the AFG and SAFER programs, including $1,991,532 in August 2016 to hire 12 new firefighters, and $15,300 in July 2014 to purchase a BullEx Attack Digital Fire Training System, which allowed the Department to create a simulated fire in a high rise building so that firefighters can train in a realistic setting. Schumer originally created the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program in 1999, which funded the Town of Adams grant today, and which later expanded to also include the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program.

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 maintaining 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.