Rep. Robert Menendez (D-13th Dist.) announced last week that the Regional, which serves North Bergen, West New York, Union City, Weehawken and Guttenberg, will receive $318,039 to purchase 90 new air packs that will be used in case of any chemical, biological or nuclear attack.
The air packs, called CBRN (Chemical, Biologicial, Radiological and Nuclear), will provide a new level of protection for every firefighter that is on duty, just in case of an incident where the packs are called upon.
The grant comes from the federal Assistance to Firefighter's Grant program, under the Department of Homeland Security. Menendez and Sen. Jon Corzine co-sponsored the legislation to receive the grant.
"I'm pleased to have strongly supported the NHRFR's effort to obtain this grant," Menendez said in a press release. "It will provide all the NHRFR's firefighters the opportunity to purchase and replace vital equipment that will enhance the health, safety and well being of these dedicated public servants in the New Jersey metropolitan area."
The new equipment will not only feature breathing devices during major crises, but will also have a PASS (Personal Alerting Safety System), a signal device that will be used in case a firefighter is trapped inside a burning or collapsed building and can't be located. The PASS sends out a piercing signal that can be heard and will help the attempts to locate the distressed firefighter.
The 90 new cylinders cost $5,000 each. An additional $150,000 from the NHRFR's general operating budget will go to complete the purchase of the 90 packs.
Would have needed the packs
"The regional would have had to purchase all 90 eventually," said NHRFR co-director Jeff Welz. "Considering that we live in a high-profile, high-volume environment, having these packs was essential. We appreciate that the Department of Homeland Security recognized the need and has been the lead agency in helping us purchase the equipment."
Michael Deorio, the other co-director of the NHRFR, applauded the efforts.
"We appreciate the efforts of Congressman Menendez and Senator Corzine in getting this grant for the NHRFR," Deorio said. "This timely grant will allow us to purchase equipment for all of our on-duty firefighters, equipping them with the best available protection available. It's always essential to have additional equipment like this, just in case of any type of accident or event."
Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, who is the chairman of the NHRFR, applauded the efforts to secure the grant.
"This grant will provide the highest level of protection for our firefighters, who have to deal with the new dangers in light of current world events," Turner said. "Through the efforts of Congressman Menendez and Senator Corzine, we will be able to provide this new protection with minimal impact on our budget."
A similar grant was also awarded to the fire department in Linden. More than $3.4 million in federal funds have been distributed to New Jersey fire departments this year.