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CCFS Director Robert Ferrara of Montclair State University awarded Fire Prevention Grant

[CCFS Administrator]  [July 11, 2013 7:39 pm ]  [Views 527]

For Immediate Release
July 11, 2013
CONTACT: Tom Pietrykoski

Congressman Pascrell's F.I.R.E. ACT Delivers Federal Grant to Montclair State University
Grant will expand hands-on fire prevention academy for resident students

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded a new federal FIRE Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) to Montclair State University (MSU) in the amount of $23,400. The federal grant will help expand MSU's Community Assistant Fire Academy, a program facilitated by the MSU Department of Fire Safety in partnership with the Bergen County Law and Public Safety Institute (BCLPSI) that teaches resident students the importance of fire safety through a hands-on simulation from a fire fighter's perspective. 

"I applaud MSU for taking such proactive steps in teaching our students the importance of fire safety," stated Rep. Pascrell, who introduced the Firefighter Investment Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act in March 1999. “Educating students on fire safety is the key to avoiding fires before they start.  Placing students directly in the boots of our firefighters allows them to see firsthand the dangers these brave men and women face.  The fire prevention training provided through this federal grant will not only keep students safe on their campus, but provide life saving skills they can carry with them through the rest of their lives."

The day-long training program, held at the BCLPSI drilling center, reinforces the importance of campus fire safety by allowing students to experience the dangers of a fire from a first responder's perspective.  Part of the training brings students though the BCLPSI’s Life Safety Complex, a three story building that houses several state of the art, propane burning, live fire training simulators.  Through the training, students also fight a simulated fire and receive instruction in the importance of knowing multiple exits in an auditorium filled with simulated smoke. 

MSU hosted a pilot of the Community Assistant Fire Academy on August 7, 2012, and has another training scheduled for August 8, 2013.  The federal grant will allow MSU to increase the amount of trainings to four each year, with the goal of expanding the program to other regions of the state.  The program is currently open to students across the entire state.

MSU Department of Fire Safety Director Robert Ferrara, a twenty-eight year veteran of the fire service and past Chief of the Lyndhurst Fire Department, first learned of the program while attending an annual conference held by the Center for Campus Fire Safety, for whom he currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors.  Both MSU and the Center of Campus Fire Safety share the same mission - "Everyone Graduates."

"Through this program, the University hopes to teach our students a lesson that can be applied both inside and outside of a college setting - one  they will remember as they graduate from our college and start their adult lives," said Ferrara.  "At Montclair State University, we feel that fire prevention is a life lesson that too few of our youth receive and even fewer actually remember.  This is evident in the number of lives lost from fires across America each year.

In his continued effort to keep college campuses safe from the dangers of fire, Rep. Pascrell introduced the Campus Fire Safety Education Act of 2013 in April of this year, which creates a new competitive Campus Fire Safety Education Grant Program at institutions of higher education. The legislation, inspired by the tragic fire at a Seton Hall University dormitory on January 19, 2000 which killed 3 students and injured over 50 others, will increase fire safety awareness among college students, help improve their fire training, and save lives.

Following the tragic fire at Seton Hall University, Congressman Pascrell introduced the Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act in the 106th Congress, which passed the House in 2008.  The legislation addresses concerns relating to fires in college dormitories and off-campus student housing by requiring schools to report fire safety statistics to the Department of Education and making this information publicly available to students and parents.

Rep. Pascrell saw the FIRE Act signed into law by President Clinton in 2000. Since the FIRE Act and SAFER were initially authorized, in FY2001 and 2005, respectively, they have provided more than $8 billion in grants to local fire departments, to hire approximately 18,500 firefighters. From FY2001-FY2010 New Jersey received nearly $200 million in grants to hire approximately 740 firefighters.

In December, the U.S. House of Representatives reauthorized - with broad bipartisan support - AFG, SAFER and U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).  The reauthorization included many important improvements to AFG and SAFER, including raising current grant caps, reducing the local match under FIRE, significantly simplifying the local match under SAFER, and providing waivers for communities facing significant economic hardship.

"From the data that we compiled through quantitative questionnaires and qualitative interviews, the program appears to have changed many of the students’ perception of the dangers of fire and how easily fires can be prevented.  We hope these lessons will rub off on the students who are supervised by these Community Assistants, as we want everyone to graduate and live as safe adults,” concluded Ferrara.

Additional information on the MSU Community Assistant Fire Academy can be found at this video.



Thomas A. Pietrykoski
Communications Director
Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09)

P: (973) 523-5152 F: (973) 523-0637


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