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Congressman Chris Collins

Representing the 27th District of New York

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Congressman Collins Announces $1,520,000 in SAFER Grant Program Funding for Firemen’s Association of the State of New York

Sep 20, 2017
Press Release
Will support FASNY’s firefighter tuition reimbursement program & recruitment campaigns

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today announced $1,520,000.00 in federal funding for the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY). The grant was allocated through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Program, which is designed to help fire departments maintain a sufficient number of firefighters.

“This SAFER grant funding is going to have a tremendous impact on residents of NY27 and all of New York State, as it will help ensure the future viability of volunteer fire departments and help collegiate students serve their community while pursuing higher education,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “In April of this year, I expressed my full support for FASNY’s application and joined Erie County legislators to highlight the impact FASNY’s work has had on the communities we represent. Today I am proud to announce FASNY’s application has been approved and will be awarded this critical funding.”

This $1,520,00.00 in SAFER Grant Program funding will allow FASNY to continue its recruitment and retention campaigns, both of which aim to ensure all volunteer fire departments and organizations throughout the State of New York are staffed with an adequate number of trained first responders. A 2016 financial impact study released by FASNY found that over the course of FASNY’s SAFER grant period (2011-2015), New York State has recruited approximately 20,000 new volunteer firefighters.

“Volunteer fire departments provide fire protection, fire prevention and emergency medical services in most of New York State, but with increasing call volumes and other challenges, we need more volunteers to staff those departments at levels that can consistently provide an effective level of response,” said Kenneth Pienkowski, President of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY).  “This SAFER grant will go a long way towards augmenting the existing efforts of FASNY and the entire volunteer fire service to recruit and retain new volunteer firefighters.  We are very grateful to all of our local federal elected officials for their help in securing this grant to help us maintain and grow the volunteer ranks across the state.”

In addition, FASNY utilizes SAFER Grant Program funding to implement its volunteer firefighter tuition reimbursement program, which incentivizes collegiate students to join their local volunteer fire departments while pursuing higher education. Since the program was implemented in spring 2012, over 400 Erie Community College students have taken advantage of this opportunity.

"This important funding is critical for the continuation of the FASNY tuition reimbursement program,” said Tommy Chmielowiec, Erie Community College Firefighter Support Specialist. “This program has been a tremendous success and is a key tool in our efforts to recruit and retain local volunteer firefighters. Approximately 420 local Western New York volunteer firefighters have, or are, participating in this program. We appreciate Congressman Collins' strong advocacy on behalf of our local volunteer firefighters and will continue to work with him in the future."

“I’m grateful to Congressman Collins for his efforts in securing this funding for FASNY,” said Ted Morton, Erie County Legislator. “Volunteer firefighters are the backbone of our community; they face increasing demands on their time and money as rules and regulations continue to increase with little relief. This program will be key in helping recruit new firefighters and has the added benefit of helping increase enrollment at ECC.”

“This funding is critically important to keeping recruitment high and retention rates up in local fire companies,” said Ed Rath, Erie County Legislator. “The number of volunteer firefighters has dropped significantly in recent years and this is a tool that can only help in recruitment efforts. I’d like to thank Congressman Collins for his leadership and support of the grant application.”

The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, "front line" firefighters available in their communities.