Congressman Brian Higgins announced federal funding to the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department and the Swormville Fire Co. to help these first responders protect communities from COVID-19. Hamburg received $4,161.29 while Swormville, serving Amherst and Clarence, was awarded $3,265.76.
These sums were allocated by Congress as part of the Department of Homeland Security's fiscal year 2020 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG) – COVID-19 supplemental. This program provides funds for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and related supplies for the nation’s first responders during the pandemic.
Higgins said, “Our volunteer fire department budgets are stretched thin during traditional times and a pandemic brings new procedures and expenses. This emergency grant program helps to support the added costs of keeping our first responders and the communities they serve safe.”
The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration. According to FEMA, PPE purchases include eye protection, isolation gowns, protective coveralls, gloves, respirators and face masks.
Under the CARES Act, the AFG program is awarded $100 million in additional federal funding to support first responders and their communities during the ongoing pandemic. This funding supplements a separate $350 million appropriated for the program in 2019.
A panel of fire and emergency personnel review and approve all applicants seeking federal funding through this program.