Croton residents send a good portion of our tax dollars to Washington every year. So, it is great when we get them back to provide vital services here in the Village. That’s why an email the Village received on Friday which began: “Congratulations! Your grant application submitted under the Grant Programs Directorate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Assistance to Firefighters Grants has been approved for award” was very welcome news indeed.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program is administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources necessary for protecting the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.
Croton was awarded $39,000 to acquire vital equipment such as air packs, masks and other priorities for our dedicated volunteer firefighters. We do our best to provide the resources which the Fire Department needs. But the help we can get from the federal side is appreciated as a very beneficial supplement to our own local funding.
There was a time when the federal government provided no direct assistance to first responders, believing that was solely a local responsibility. Fortunately, local elected officials around the country, joined by their police, fire, and EMS leaders turned that philosophy around and convinced Congress and the White House to start making these investments in safety. The results were programs such as the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) in the Justice Department and FEMA programs like AFG and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER).
Croton will always be careful when it comes to applying for federal grants. We want to make sure it is our priorities which drive the pursuit of these funds, and not the other way around. In the case of AFG we were fortunate to be guided by Village Manager Bryan Healy and his team and Fire Chief John Munson, whose excellent collaboration led to this AFG grant success.
Rainy weather caused our 9/11 ceremony this year to take place in the Harmon Firehouse. In some ways though, it was so appropriate since the bravery and sacrifice of our firefighters is so much of what 9/11 means to us all. Croton’s Fire Department deserves the best resources available, and we will do our best to make sure that is so.
Len Simon, Trustee
Village of Croton-on-Hudson