Contact: Kelly Vence
Public Information Office
ELIZABETH, NJ - September 19, 2016 - Mayor J. Christian Bollwage joined Senator Robert Menendez, Senator Cory Booker, Congressman Albio Sires as well as City Officials and members of the Elizabeth Fire Department, at a press conference to announce the award of $5,049,612.00 in Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant funds. At the event, which was held at Elizabeth Fire Headquarters, it was announced that the City of Elizabeth will hire thirty-six firefighters under this award. This is the first SAFER grant to be received by the municipality.
"The Elizabeth Fire Department will benefit greatly from hiring 36 new firefighters through the SAFER grant program and appreciates the opportunity to participate in this vital initiative," said Mayor J. Christian Bollwage. "I would also like to thank Senator Menendez, Senator Booker and Congressman Sires for their support. The more than $5 million in awarded funds will enable the ranks of the Elizabeth Fire Department to be elevated, yielding increased firefighter safety, enhanced response efforts and improved daily operations.”
The City of Elizabeth is the fourth largest municipality in New Jersey and the Union County Seat. Due to its size, location within the region and direct access to critical infrastructure, the response area of the Elizabeth Fire Department is diverse and extensive. Located within the City are Terminal A of Newark Liberty International Airport, two train stations, the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal, The Mills at Jersey Gardens Mall, IKEA, governmental and educational buildings as well as numerous hotels and companies.
“Investing in our firefighters is an investment in our own safety and the safety of our families,” said Senator Robert Menendez.  “This federal funding will help provide the necessary staffing so the Elizabeth Fire Department is fully prepared to respond to the next emergency, whether that be a house fire, natural disaster, or man-made disaster.”
Grant funds will be used to increase efficiency, effectiveness and services provided by the Elizabeth Fire Department as well as support firefighter health, safety and well-being. Modifications to pension benefits by the State of New Jersey contributed to the retirement of many uniform safety personnel within the City of Elizabeth. Therefore, funding will assist with bridging the personnel gap that has occurred with attrition, meeting industry standards and enhancing overall preparedness through incorporating additional qualified firefighters. 
“I was proud to help the Elizabeth Fire Department secure this critical federal funding for the first time in more than a decade,” said Senator Cory Booker.  “The brave firefighters we are standing with today put their lives on the line each and every day to protect our families.  In turn we need to stand up for them in providing the necessary federal resources needed to ensure their safety and the security of our communities.”
New hires will be assigned to the seven fire stations throughout the City, expediting response to incidents as well as amplifying the ability to assist in requests received through Union County Mutual Aid. 
"I congratulate the Elizabeth Fire Department for pursuing this competitive grant," added Representative Albio Sires.  "With these additional funds, Elizabeth's fire department will continue to provide the highest level of overall safety for its residents and their neighborhoods."
"From fighting fires to providing search, rescue and specialized operations, the Elizabeth Fire Department protects the lives and property of our residents with excellence," said Councilwoman-at-Large Patricia Perkins-Auguste. "These grant funds will increase manpower and support the dedicated efforts of our firefighters."
The SAFER grant program is administered by the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).