Camden County fire department receives largest cut of federal aid for NJ firehouses

By KYW Newsradio 1060
WINSLOW TOWNSHIP, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Fire departments across New Jersey are benefitting from nearly $473,000 in grants from the federal CARES Act. The Winslow Township Fire Department in Camden County received the biggest cut.

Chief Marc Rigberg said the department applied for $125,000 in grants for personal protective equipment, respirators and other supplies needed amid the pandemic. The government provided $113,000 — significantly more than any other department in the state.

“The equipment that we will buy from it will keep our forces safer,” Rigberg said. “It'll keep us in the fight against the pandemic that's ongoing right now. It'll keep us healthier, stronger. It'll actually provide us with reusable stock that we can reuse, so again, a financial benefit.”

The equipment reduces the risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19, allowing the department to be fully staffed when needed.

“Us being able to protect ourselves enables us to serve the community better and not have forced reductions due to ill firefighters or emergency medical technicians,” he added. The funding also ensures the continuity of service across a large area that doesn’t have too many fire hydrants.

Since the pandemic, Rigberg said a lot has changed in the way firefighters do their jobs, both for their safety and the safety of the community. 

“The stressors for us to stay in the fight, again, are pretty high,” he said. Rigberg explains more about what it’s like below:

Nearby fire departments in Washington Township and Westampton also received about $9,000 and $18,500 in federal aid, respectively. 

Winslow Township firefighters serve about 40,000 residents. Rigberg said support from the community and lobbying from state and local politicians helped the grant come to fruition.

U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker helped secure the aid.

“As our firefighters risk their own lives to protect those of others, particularly in the midst of this public health crisis, we must ensure they have the resources they need to remain out of harm’s way,” added Booker in a statement.