By Evelyn Bonilla
The life of a firefighter is no easy task, skillfully trained they put out hazardous fires and immediately come to the rescue of the communities they work for, but in order to accomplish this they must have the facilities needed to do so.
In the winter of 2008 firefighters of two former Bayonne firehouses were relocated to the Peninsula and were currently responding to emergencies from a temporary facility which consisted of a tent and two trailers, determine and dedicated they work effortlessly under these conditions. Seemingly it seemed no hope was in store, but thanks to the collaborated efforts of Mayor Mark Smith, Fire Chief Greg Rogers, Chris Patella and a great congressional team of U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg, Robert Menendez and Congressman Albio Sires, Bayonne has received the sixth highest grant award in the nation.
The $3.5 million Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) grant know as the (SCG) Fire Station Construction Grant was created to assist applicants with the building and reconstruction of fire stations and is part of the stimulus package known as the (ARRA) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is intended to provide a stimulus to the U.S. economy in the wake of an economic downturn.
In selecting grant recipients the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gives high priority to projects that would replace unsafe or uninhabitable structures and expand fire protection coverage.
In a public announcement held on October 5th in front of the City Hall Fire Station, Senator Frank Lautenberg explained ,”This investment in Bayonne’s public safety infrastructure will provide firefighters with the facilities they need to best protect the community. Securing one of the largest firehouse construction grants in the country will improve conditions for Bayonne firefighters and help them continue their tradition of excellence”, he concluded.
Senator Robert Menendez also commented on this great accomplishment, “With this badly needed investment, those who deserve our attention most are getting the help they need, and Bayonne and all of us in New Jersey are the beneficiaries.”
In a collaborate effort both New Jersey senators and Congressman Sires worked together to bring to Bayonne much needed relief in these tough economic times. Bayonne Fire Chief Greg Rogers was extremely grateful and proud of this amazing stride, he explained, “Today is the day I’ve been waiting for; a tremendous weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I am proud to say, the men of the Bayonne Fire Department stationed at the Peninsula, will no longer operate from the inadequate confines of a tent and trailers, but will elevate to a new dignified and highly functional modern day state-of-the-art fire station.
“I am privileged today, to find myself in the company of high-ranking dignitaries, Senator Lautenburg, Senator Menendez, Representative Albio Sires, and Mayor Mark Smith. They are all here today in support of this victory, and it is clear, that by their collective support, we’ve achieved this success.”
Congressman Albio Sires also commented on this incredible accomplishment, “Our new station will increase the capabilities of Bayonne’s fire department to protect communities from fire hazards while at the same time creating jobs and healing the 13th district’s economy. I am happy to have supported Bayonne’s application for this grant earlier this month. I am pleased that the Department of Homeland Security has recognized the value of this project to our district‘s security and economic growth”, he concluded.
The funds received from this grant will go towards the building of a new state-of-the-art fire station. The plan consist of building a new 15,000 square foot facility on a 1.8 acre vacant lot northeast of the current temporary location.
As Mayor Mark Smith address his audience he explained, “This important grant will allow us to build a brand new fire station to meet the needs of our community without an increase in property taxes.” “Senator Lautenberg, Senator Menedez and Congressman Sires have once again, proven themselves to be true friends of New Jersey’s citizens by looking out for the public safety of our children, our families and our senior citizens. They are a great congressional team, who fought hard for the City of Bayonne.”