CARTERET—The Carteret Fire Department has been awarded $216,760 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Mayor Dan Reiman announced last week.
The award has been provided through the SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) program, which first provided grants to fire departments throughout the United States in 2005. Approximately $180.5 million will be distributed nationwide.
The program was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations in order to help them increase the number of trained, “front-line” firefighters available in their communities.
Each year, SAFER funds assist local fire departments to increase their staffing and deployment capabilities in order to respond to emergencies whenever they may occur. As a result of the enhanced staffing, response times should be sufficiently reduced with an appropriate number of personnel assembled at the incident scene.
Also, the enhanced staffing should provide that all front-line/first-due apparatus of SAFER grantees have a minimum of four trained personnel to meet the OSHA standards referenced above. Ultimately, a faster, safer and more efficient incident scene will be established and communities will have more adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards.
Over the past six years, Carteret’s administration has focused on building formidable agencies of “first responders.” Superseding their traditional functions, Carteret’s police, fire, EMS, OEM, and first aid squad are being trained and equipped for large scale crises that most often occur unexpectedly. These departments recognize the potential for accidents involving toxic substances, many of which are transported to and from Carteret.
The Borough of Carteret is densely comprised of over 23,000 residents that coexist within a four square mile vicinity. Along with many of its neighbors the town is heavily trafficked along its mile-long Arthur Kill coastline by oil tankers and along its roads by haz-mat vehicles. As is characteristic of this part of Middlesex County, Carteret is home to a considerable number of storage facilities for hazardous substances including oil, jet fuel, gasoline, toxic substances, and other flammables.
Most of the town’s hazardous materials will make their way to other thoroughfares such as the Conrail “Chemical Coast Line” and the New Jersey Turnpike, which pass directly through Carteret. Lying adjacent to many similar communities such as Newark and New York City, and within close proximity to three international airports, Carteret’s Fire Department has significant responsibilities that extend well beyond the town’s borders.
Carteret’s SAFER grant will allow for the addition of two full-time firefighters, enabling its local fire department to better comply with staffing, response and operational standards. The award will bring the CFD’s full-time career Firefighter/EMT staff up to 22, in addition to its 24 volunteer firefighters, and four full-time EMTs. seven of its firefighters are Certified Haz-Mat technicians.
Its fleet includes three fire engines, two ambulances, one rescue truck, one foam fire engine, one utility vehicle, and one 93-foot ladder tower.
The Carteret Fire and Emergency Medical Service Department currently operates on a budget of $3,569,200 for FY 2009.
The new firefighters will be required to pass FFI and FFII, as well as having New Jersey Emergency Medical Technician Certification, with the ability to provide first-responder medical attention.
“The efficiency of our first-responders can play a crucial role in the outcome of emergencies of any scale,” Reiman said. “The Carteret Fire Department is instrumental in providing emergency services to the greater region, which being characterized as industrial is prone to larger scale emergencies.”
“Assuring the best possible training and the most qualified staffing are key components to our emergency services,” Councilman and Fire Commissioner Randy Krum added. “We’re fortunate that FEMA has recognized the growing demands of fire departments in urban New Jersey.”
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