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Biden Highlights Three Philadelphia Fire Companies that are Reopening Through Federal Funds

Nearly one year after a Christmas tree fire led to the deadliest blaze in Philadelphia in more than a century, President Joe Biden on Monday traveled to Pennsylvania to highlight $22.4 million in federal funding that will allow three fire companies to reopen. 

“When the worst happens, when those alarms go off, when everything and everyone you love is in danger, there’s no better sight in the world than the firefighter ready to go to work,” Biden said. “So thank you for being who you are. And thank your families by the way.”

The money will pay the salaries and benefits of 72 firefighters for three years, giving Engine 6, Ladder 1 and Ladder 11 the ability to start its operations again, according to the White House. As the president noted on Monday, Ladder 1 would have been the closest responder to the fire in the Fairmount neighborhood last year that left three adults and nine children dead. 

“This neighborhood once again has a ladder company on-call 24 hours a day,” Biden said. “On the day of the Fairmont fire, if the company hadn’t been decommissioned Ladder 1 would have been the closest truck to the fire. God only knows whether it would have been able to get there earlier.” 

The funding for the city of Philadelphia comes from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, program, which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and was made available through last year’s budget.

All three of the companies that are reopening shut down during the 2008 recession.  Philadelphia has roughly 2,700 firefighters at 63 stations for a population of 1.5 million. 

The president opened his remarks at Engine 13 Firehouse noting two personal stories in which firefighters had a significant impact on his life, including telling the story of how his local fire department took him to Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland in the middle of a snowstorm to get an operation when suffering a brain aneurysm

“Admission, in full disclosure: I would not be here were it not for my local fire company in Wilmington, Delaware,” Biden said. “They saved my life.”

Biden’s stop in Philadelphia marks his latest visit to battleground Pennsylvania — a state the Scranton native frequently picks to tout his economic agenda, and one expected to be significant in the 2024 election. Following his remarks, the president participated in a campaign reception in the area. Biden has ramped up his participation in fundraising events over the last two weeks as the end of the year, and the close of its fundraising books, draws near.

Source: Spectrum News 9