Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Over $648,000 For Jefferson County Fire Departments To Purchase Critical New Gear To Help Protect Firefighters And Keep Community Safe

Jul 6, 2023

Senators Say Funding Major Fed $$$ Will Help Seven Fire Departments Across Jefferson County Purchase A Critically Needed Nearly 150 New Sets Of Gear Including Coats, Boots, Helmets, Hoods, Gloves, And More To Replace Dangerously Out Of Date Supplies  

Schumer Helped Create The AFG & SAFER Grant 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 Being Eliminated This Year

Schumer, Gillibrand: Fed $$$ Will Help Protect The Brave Firefighters That Keep North Country Safe

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $648,362.85 in federal funding for seven fire departments in Jefferson County to purchase new protective equipment to replace aging gear to help keep firefighters safe . 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 set to expire at the end of this year, which delivered this funding to Jefferson County.

“Our firefighters in Jefferson County risk their lives every day to protect our community, the least we can do is ensure they have the best gear possible to keep themselves and our community safe. That is why I am proud to deliver this major over $648,000 federal boost so firefighters from every corner of Jefferson County can stay safe while providing aid to the surrounding community and protecting critical infrastructure in the area,” said Senator Schumer. “I helped create and protect the AFG program because I know this funding is such a vital lifeline for rural communities like those in Jefferson County, 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 North Country fire department’s prepared to take on any emergency.”

“Jefferson County firefighters work tirelessly to protect our communities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This federal funding will provide them with the equipment and resources they need to stay safe as they respond to emergency situations. I will continue working to ensure that fire departments across the North Country have what they need to continue defending our communities on the front lines.”

“On behalf of fire departments across Jefferson County, I would like thank Senator Chuck Schumer for his support in securing this AFG award,” said Jefferson County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann, III. “As a result of this funding, the seven fire departments included in this award will receive nearly 150 complete sets of personal protective equipment, each set including a coat, pants, boots, a helmet, two hoods, and two pairs of gloves. Personal protective equipment is absolutely essential to the health and safety of our County’s firefighters, and I am proud that our federal and local leaders worked together to make this happen for our community.”

“The award of this Assistance to Firefighters grant is a huge win for the Town of Adams Fire Department, the other fire departments involved, and communities across Jefferson County. These funds are critical to a small fire department like ours and will allow us to upgrade our aging personal protective equipment with new sets to better protect our firefighters,” said Adams Fire Department Chief Brian Berkey. “I would like to thank Senator Schumer for fighting to make sure our firefighters are properly equipped to keep our communities safe.”

Specifically, Schumer and Gillibrand explained the funding will go towards purchasing new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the Adams Fire Department, Adams Center Fire District, Belleville Volunteer Fire Department, Plessis Volunteer Fire Company, Rodman Volunteer Fire Department, Sackets Harbor Fire Company, and Smithville Fire District. The funds are expected to help purchase nearly 150 complete sets of PPE – each set including a coat, pants, boots, helmet, two hoods, and two pairs of gloves. This new PPE will better protect Jefferson firefighters from heat and allow them to move around more easily, reducing fatigue and stress on their bodies as they work to protect residents across the county. According to local firefighters, a majority of the protective gear currently in service in Jefferson is well over 10 years old, with some coats and pants manufactured as far back as 1996, and this will help replace this aging gear with the modern equipment our firefighters need to stay safe.

Schumer and Gillibrand have secured over $569,000 for Jefferson County Fire Departments through the AFG and SAFER programs, including $112,858 in May 2017 to purchase new self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units, air bottles, face masks, and voice amplifiers, $212,381 in July 2017 to purchase new portable radio systems, and $249,048 in July 2018 to replace 50 of the Fire District’s 50 to 20-year-old air packs. 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. Currently though, both the AFG and SAFER program are at risk of being eliminated, endangering millions in funding for Upstate New York Fire Departments.

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.