Paterson fire department gets $7.5 million federal grant, Pascrell | Paterson Times

Paterson fire department gets $7.5 million federal grant, Pascrell


The United States Department of Homeland Security has awarded the Paterson Fire Department $7,498,372 in grant money that will allow the city to avert a potential major reduction in force, announced Congressman Bill Pascrell on Wednesday morning.

“This federal grant couldn’t come at a better time, as cities like Paterson continue to feel budgets constraints that threaten critical public safety resources,” Pascrell said.

The grant provided through the SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) Act will let Paterson hire 32 new firefighters and fill 17 positions that were lost through attrition. In total the grant will allow the city to hire 49 firefighters, Pascrell said.

“It’s a great day for the fire department and the city,” said fire chief Michael Postorino. “It’s much needed.” He said this will prevent force reduction that was predicted forthcoming in the city’s transitional aid application to the state earlier in the year. The city’s fire department handles 48,000 calls for service every year and it needs its firefighters, said the chief.

“I wrote the SAFER Act to help fire departments like Paterson avoid having to face a significantly depleted force that could potentially jeopardize the safety of our communities,” Pascrell, Chairman of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, said. “Adequate staffing for fire departments has a direct correlation to their response times and can literally mean the difference between life and death.”

In May the congressman wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in support of Paterson’s grant application.

Pascrell has been fighting others in the congress attempting to undermine the legislation that he put in place to ensure local fire departments are adequately staff, said the congressman.

“While there are still those in Congress who seek to undermine these effective programs, I stand committed to fighting to ensure they are fully funded in order to assist our brave men and women on the front lines,” Pascrell said.

So far Paterson fire department has received 27.8 million from the federal government since 2001, according to Pascrell. In 2013, the congressman secured a $6.9 million SAFER grant allowing the department to retain 40 firefighters on the verge of being cut and add an additional nine.

In 2005, the city received $6.4 million in SAFER grant that allowed it to hire 53 firefighters. Pascrell has been instrumental in securing nine FIRE grants since 2001 totaling $2.5 million for equipment purchases.

In 2009, Paterson was awarded $4.5 million for the construction of the McBride Avenue firehouse via the Firefighters Station Construction Grant funded through the Recovery Act.

Jayed Rahman contributed to this report.

  • John Q

    Thank god! We can't have our firemen laid off that is a privilege held only for the Police department

  • John Felb

    It is almost obscene the amount of money the PFD has received over the years while other cities and areas never receive a dime or maybe only a nickel. Will this mean they won't be bothering the neighboring FDs to come save Paterson. It would be nice to spread the money around so the other depress areas could see something new and hire more firefighters.

  • John C

    I'm confused. Paterson Police don't have enough officers to protect the citizens of the city, they lay off a ton of cops but we need to hire more fireman? I'm sorry, but look at the facts here. When the Paterson Fire department has a big fire, all the neighboring towns come to Paterson to assist them at the scene or with other calls, something called Mutual aid. These neighboring towns are all volunteer (they don't get paid) but the country is majority based on volunteer firefighters. By hiring more firefighters that doesn't make them put the fire out quicker or get rid of the other towns assisting Paterson.

    Look at other paid towns like Clifton, Passaic. They have been forced to cut down their personnel because they have no funds to pay for it. You know how they make up for it? The neighboring Volunteer towns assist them with Mutual aid.

    Hiring more firefighters is not going to improve the quality of life in Paterson. Hiring Police officers will. Get grants to help the Paterson Police department staff officers to make the city safer. Have you ever seen a typical fire in Paterson? The buildings are usually destroyed and multiple properties are affected. Hiring more firefighters are not going to save the buildings or more people that need to be rescued. When Paterson responds to a fire, there usually about 50 to 80 fireman at the scene.

    The other big problem I have is the majority of the firefighters that are hired aren't born and raised in Paterson. What you will see is all the out of towners from Wayne, Haledon, Totowa, Prospect Park, and West Paterson quickly get a residence in Paterson so they can get hired. Then they move out. of town, it's proven. Just look at the department now and you will see that.

    I am not saying the Fire Department doesn't deserve anything or additional resources. I am saying evaluate what is most needed in our city. We need more cops on the street first.

  • Unc

    The city needs cops!!!! You could double the ranks and still need more.