Officials from the NHRFR announced that they received a grant of $171,000 to purchase equipment to better prepare for a possible terrorist attack.
This announcement came on the heels of the Department of Homeland Security raising the terrorist alert level to High (code orange), when information from captured Al-Qaeda terrorists pointed to possible further attacks, both in the United States and abroad.
The NHRFR will use the federal grant money to purchase a vehicle and other state-of-the-art equipment from a pre-approved list.
NHRFR serves five municipalities in north Hudson, namely North Bergen, West New York, Union City, Weehawken, and Guttenberg.
According to NHRFR Co-Director Jeff Welz, the regional was one of the few organizations in New Jersey to receive the substantial grant. "We were one of a few agencies in the state to receive this aid," Welz said. "I am very pleased we were recognized as a first responder to terrorist activities. Not only will this greatly enhance our ability to respond to terrorist attempts, it will significantly improve our day-to-day operations."
Officials from the NHRFR were presented with a five-page list of equipment and materials that they could purchase with the grant money.
After reviewing the list, officials determined that the Regional would be best served by a fiber optic system to locate victims trapped in rubble, heavy lifting airbags to raise large objects to help rescue victims, hands-free radios for better communications, and multi-gas meters which detect the presence of chemical or biological elements in the air.
"This equipment goes a long way in handling any type of terrorist threat that may arrive in the future," said NHRFR Chief Brian McEldowney. "The new equipment allows us to perform extraordinary rescue needs such as building collapse, explosions, confined-space rescue, and water-related incidents."
NHRFR also requested a new dual-axle trailer to keep the specialized equipment in one location, without taxing current in-use vehicles by taking up space.
The full list of requested equipment will be submitted to the New Jersey Division of State Police, which is overseeing the grant process, for final approval.
"This is something we have been waiting for," said NHRFR Chairman Robert Aiello, a former fire chief in West New York. "Not only will this new equipment allow us to better protect our citizens, but it will also provide better safety for our firefighters."
Officials believe they will have the equipment in place and in use by the end of the year.