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Cortland Fire Department gets $421K to train, recruit members

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  • Staff Report 

The City of Cortland is set to receive more than $400,000 in federal funding aimed at supporting firefighter recruitment and training. On Tuesday, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced that the Cortland Fire Department will receive $421,920 through the US Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program.

The funding will be used to restart the “bunk-in” program, which allows college-age individuals to stay at the fire station two nights each week in exchange for a stipend towards their housing costs. The program has been successful for the Cortland Fire Department, with several current career firefighters having started as bunkers, including Captain Will Fox.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

Additionally, the grant will cover social media training, marketing training, and website redesign to help better recruit volunteer firefighters, along with improvements to program coordination and management.

Senator Schumer, who initially created the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program in 1999, expanded the program to include SAFER, which funded Cortland’s grant. However, both programs are at risk of being eliminated, putting millions of dollars in funding for Upstate New York Fire Departments in jeopardy. Schumer is leading the charge to save these federal firefighting programs that are set to expire at the end of this year.

The funding will help Cortland’s firefighters, who have been on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic and tirelessly work to keep communities safe. City of Cortland Chief of Fire Wayne Friedman said the funding secured will improve safety for firefighters and residents by putting more firefighters on first arriving equipment.

With the additional federal funds, Cortland is poised to strengthen its recruitment efforts and train the next generation of firefighters, ensuring that the community remains safe and secure for years to come.