July 9, 2020
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville firefighters will receive a modest but critical federal grant to be used to purchase essential personal protection equipment (PPE) needed to protect the public—and public servants—during the ongoing coronavirus emergency, said Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton) today.
The more than $13,000 in federal funding “will help pay for masks, protective gowns and suits for first responders operating in COVID-19 safety practices,” he said. The money comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the comprehensive, recovery bill Smith supported to help states, hospitals, first responders, workers, businesses and communities severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our firefighters and first responders are often the first on the scene to help a resident in distress, and they need good, reliable, medical grade quality PPE,” stated Smith (NJ-04). “The key functions of the CARES Act, and why Congress moved it so quickly, was to help at all levels, from small businesses and individual workers, to states, counties and towns… and that includes our local fire departments, police and EMTs. I applaud Mayor Fried and Chief Schaffener for taking the initiative in applying for this grant.”
The Operations and Safety Grant comes from the Department of Homeland Security’s FY 2020 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program COVID-19 Supplemental (AFG-S) awards. The grant is administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.
“The purpose of the supplemental funding programs are to get grants directly into the hands of our firefighters, EMS and fire training academies to boost their ability to protect the health and safety of both the public and first-responders by helping them acquire PPE and other needed supplies related to the COVID-19 outbreak,” Smith explained. The AFG-S objectives are to provide resources that equip personnel to respond to the pandemic and support community resilience. Smith said the funds will be applied to pay the lion’s share of an order of $14,329 in PPE. The funding will allow the Robbinsville Township Fire Department to purchase 65 respirators and filters, 45 reusable coveralls and 75 reusable goggles, as well as disposable PPE, including 750 isolation gowns and 3,000 surgical masks.
“Being prepared for every situation is what sets our health care workers and first responders apart,” Robbinsville Township Mayor Dave Fried said. “That means having the right personal protective equipment (PPE), particularly in the age of COVID-19 with the dangers our men and women on the front lines face every single day. Grants such as this AFG award help towns such as Robbinsville enormously, both in terms of supply and with our municipal budget so taxpayers can feel some relief. On behalf of Fire Chief Dan Schaffener, Police Chief Chris Nitti and our EMTs, thank you to Rep. Chris Smith for his constant efforts over the years in helping us secure these much-needed and greatly appreciated funds.”
The CARES Act was the third and the largest phase of the federal response enacted into law. Smith also supported Phase I, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020—which provided $8.3 billion for treatment and prevention measures in NJ, including in NJ. Phase II, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act—provided paid sick leave, family medical leave, free testing, and expanded unemployment benefits among other provisions to help working Americans.