Camden fire department could benefit from federal funding program again this year

3 mins read
Governor Phil Murphy (Courtesy: NJ Office of the Governor)

New Jersey Gov. Murphy has proposed an additional $10 million to support local fire departments in this year’s budget, using funding from the federal American Rescue Plan.  The money would fund the state’s Firefighters Grant Program. Murphy made the announcement at a press conference in Paramus earlier.

“[First responders] should be well funded and well equipped so they can be as safe as possible when rushing into harm’s way. That’s why in this year’s budget we’ve proposed another 10 million dollars for the American Rescue Plan firefighter grant program to help local fire departments purchase safety gear and equipment. Everything from PPE to advanced cleaning equipment, protective clothing, special breathing apparatus,” Governor Murphy announced. 

Governor Murphy elaborated on why the funding is crucial.

“Equipment like self-contained breathing apparatus and turnout gear like protective helmets, jackets, boots, and gloves are just some of the nearly 300 grants that we distributed last year to municipalities and fire districts. These aren’t cold budget numbers, they’re not abstract, these are tangible things that can protect us and make our lives better.” Says Governor Murphy. 

If included in this year’s budget, fire departments will have to apply for funding, just as they did last year.

Michael Harper, Camden fire chief, said he plans to apply for funding that will impact six city firehouses and 189 firefighters under his watch. 

“We haven’t gotten a notice yet for the new round of funding but most likely we’d be using the funds for additional turnout gear because we have been hiring numerous people over the last six years,”  Harper said.

Turnout gear refers to uniforms worn by firefighters, consisting of a coat, gloves, boots, bunker pants, and a flash hood.

Last year, Camden’s fire department received $52,000 from the program. 

Harper expounded upon some of the department’s needs for this year.

“Fire service is always evolving and we’re relatively busy so some things… wear out faster than others. Aside from turnout gear, we’d first look at our self-contained breathing apparatus or SBAs. SBAs are the tanks with the mask that we wear when going into hazardous areas. We’re also looking to upgrade our radios,” Harper said.