The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to renew a pair...

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to renew a pair of federal grants that have provided dozens of Long Island fire departments with nearly $18 million in funding since 2020. Credit: Lou Minutoli

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to renew a pair of federal grants that have provided dozens of Long Island fire departments with nearly $18 million in funding since 2020.

By a bipartisan 88-2 vote, senators approved the Fire Grants and Safety Act, which was passed last month in the House and is expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden.

The measure extends two federal grant programs that were set to expire this year and have been long used by fire departments on Long Island, across the state and nationwide to help pay for equipment, training and recruitment of new firefighters.

“New York and Long Island firefighters run into danger and risk their lives for us — the least we can do is give them the best equipment,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told Newsday before the vote.

“Unfortunately,” Schumer added, “a lot of the localities don't have the tax base to give them the good equipment, whether it’s fire trucks or breathing apparatus.”

Schumer, who in the late 1990s and early 2000s helped establish the pair of grants, known as the Assistance to Firefighters Grant and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant, said he had spoken to Biden about the bill and received the president’s support.

About 90 Long Island fire departments have received grant funding since 2020, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the program.

The House companion of the bill passed last month by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 393-13, with all four Long Island House members — Reps. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport), Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park), Nick LaLota (R-Amityville) and Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) — voting in favor.

National Volunteer Fire Council Chair Steve Hirsch, in a statement issued after the House vote, noted volunteer departments rely on the federal funding because local fundraisers “can only raise only so much.”

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