On March 27, 2020, the CARES Act was signed into law. This enabled the creation of a $150 billion emergency fund called the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). To stop the spread of Covid19, cities, towns, tribes, local governments and villages in the U.S. can legally utilize these funds to purchase protective equipment (cleaning equipment for the protective equipment falls under the terms and conditions). Most importantly, these funds can only be used to cover expenses that: (a) are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid–19); (b) were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the state or government; and (c) were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.

Why is this important to NJ Fire Departments? Over the next two months through December 30, 2020, you can use this funding to continue protecting your firefighters and personnel, by purchasing and obtaining best-in-class laundry washer and dryer equipment that will clean your protective equipment, helping to maintain health and safety from bio-agents like Covid19. This funding is already in your administration’s budgets, but has to be appropriated for equipment purchases prior to December 30, 2020. An added benefit, is that carcinogenic particulates will also be removed, addressing health concerns in alignment with the NJ Cancer Presumption Bill. So, this is a win-win for your department and for your administration.

What do you have to do immediately? Obtain CRF funding appropriation information on your specific municipality, town or tribe. Below is a list of the nine counties that received funding along with funding amounts. It is important to note that many of these counties have already distributed the funds to the various municipalities and towns, so the budgets are there for you within your municipality or town to explore use for the purchase of new laundry equipment.

Bergen $162,662,060.40

Camden $88,375,283.90

Essex $139,414,976.30

Hudson $117,327,044.40

Middlesex $143,966,956.60

Monmouth $107,974,955.70

Ocean $105,949,274.70

Passaic $87,564,767.20

Union $97,077,214.30

Although Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Morris, Salem, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties did not qualify for this funding based on a minimum population of 500,000 residents, Governor Phil Murphy allocated $37 million in this aid for these counties to share, $15 million of which can be specifically used for protective equipment and cleaning equipment for that protective equipment.

Elisa Charters, CCIM, is the Principal of EAC Business International LLC. Her consultancy practice specializes in environmental, health and safety; diversity and inclusion; and procurement/public administration. As a survivor of 9/11, Elisa was directly involved with the redevelopment of WTC post 9/11 on behalf of PANYNJ. She recognizes our fallen heroes as an invited guest speaker of the Essex County 9/11 Memorial Service at Eagle Rock Park, annually; and works to support career and volunteer Fire Departments across the State of New Jersey with their funding and equipment needs.

Sources: NPR NYC Laws Intended to Protect Firefighters Who Get Cancer Often Lack Teeth

January 4, 201912:22 PM ET LAUREN BAVIS; By Matt Arco | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, Updated Aug 20, 2020; Posted Aug 20, 2020; U.S. Department of Treasury.