The grant program helps fire departments cover the costs of equipment like masks and protective clothing. (Dana DiFilippo | New Jersey Monitor)
Gov. Phil Murphy wants to continue a firefighter grant program that helps ensure firefighters have proper protective clothing and equipment.
The program launched last year, funded by federal COVID-19 relief funds, and helped send grants to nearly 300 fire departments across the state. Murphy’s new plan would add another $10 million for the budget year that starts July 1.
“Our first responders risk their lives daily to make sure our communities are safe and healthy, and this administration will continue to prioritize their needs to keep them safe while they do their jobs,” Murphy said at a press conference Tuesday at a Paramus fire station.
In the year since its inception, the grant program has awarded as much as $56,000 to 293 New Jersey fire departments to cover the cost of equipment like masks, helmets, and other protective garments. The Paramus department purchased particulate blocking hoods that help protect firefighters from carcinogens, Murphy said.
Bergen County fire departments received more than $1.1 million, Murphy added. It’s unclear if all the money from the 2022 grant program has been awarded.
Grants are prioritized toward volunteer fire departments, like the one in Paramus, Murphy said. The governor was joined Tuesday by federal, local, and state officials and by firefighters from around the state.
“We need to reinvest in our American Rescue Plan firefighter grant program for Jersey — for our local fire departments to purchase the gear and equipment they need,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-05).
Last year, Murphy also allocated $10 million for the program, with a maximum award of $75,000 per fire department.
The program is overseen by the Department of Community Affairs, which would administer the grants again if approved in the final budget. The state Legislature must send a state budget to Murphy’s desk for his signature before July 1. Budget hearings are ongoing in both chambers.
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