Yonkers Fire Dept. Receives Millions in Federal Funding

YONKERS – U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced the award of $11,580,930 in federal funding for the City of Yonkers Fire Department to hire 30 additional firefighters. The funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Program.

Specifically, the Senators explained, Yonkers Fire Department will fill 20 currently vacant positions and staff an additional 10 positions left open due to long term medical leave. This federal funding will help to relieve some of the financial stress that Yonkers has experienced due to additional overtime costs resulting from staffing shortages, vacant positions, and long term medical leaves.

“From the peak of the pandemic to normal times, our brave Yonkers firefighters are always on the front lines, risking their lives to protect their community,” said Senator Schumer. “These courageous first responders deserve all the federal support possible to help them do their jobs. I’ve fought my whole career to bring more federal resources to support our heroic firefighters, and I’m proud to deliver this funding so Yonkers Fire Department can hire 30 new desperately needed firefighters without bearing the financial stress.”

“New York’s first responders have worked tirelessly to keep our communities safe throughout the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Senator Gillibrand. “As we enter fire season amidst a global pandemic, we must ensure our fire departments in Westchester have the resources needed to hire and retain firefighters. I will always fight to secure the funding our fire departments need to stay safe as they enter the line of duty.”

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano was appreciative of the much-needed funding. “Many thanks to Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and the Department of Homeland Security for their commitment and advocacy of our Yonkers Fire Department.” Spano continued by saying “This SAFER grant will support the hiring of 30 new firefighters over the next three years, saving Yonkers taxpayers $3 million a year. Now more than ever, we need to invest in our essential workers who are on the frontlines and this funding assures our city can support them as well as our current firefighters.”

“We are grateful that Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Senator Gillibrand were able to secure this critical funding for the Yonkers Firefighters. These federal dollars will help keep the Yonkers Fire Department whole and allow us to continue to provide the citizens of Yonkers with the premier fire and emergency response they deserve,” said Barry McGoey, President Yonkers Firefighters IAFF Local 628.

The funding comes as Yonkers Fire Department faces staffing vacancies from attrition, long term sick or injury leave, and absences due to COVID-19 collectively creating additional unexpected overtime costs over $6,500,000.00. The senators said that the federal funding will be used to offset the need for additional overtime funding by expanding the department to better serve the City of Yonkers.

After hearing from the city and the department in June, both senators asked DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and FEMA Acting Administrator Peter Gaynor to fully fund Yonkers’ $11.5M proposal to hire 30 additional firefighters. The senators emphasized the devastating financial impacts of COVID-19 in Yonkers, New York’s fourth-largest city, and one of the nation’s first hot spots for the virus.

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