BROCTON - Without question, firefighting is a dirty job. But thanks to joint efforts of the Brocton Fire Department, village leaders and Senator Charles Schumer, a local department's gear can be washed free of the effects of firefighting and hopefully last for an extended period of time.
The Brocton Fire Department was originally granted $40,000 by FEMA to purchase 30 sets of turnout gear. Because of the need for the suits before the funds were to be released, the department decided to purchase its own gear out of available funds from their fundraising line item.
Fire Company President Dan King author of the grant, went back to FEMA with an appeal process to ask if the grant could be applied to the purchase of an industrial-type washer and drying cabinet for the department's gear.
After some back and forth, plus some pressure from Brocton Mayor Dave Hazelton and Senator Schumer, King and the department won their appeal and were able to get an affirmative answer allowing them to use the grant monies for the equipment.
"I'd like to publicly thank Mayor Hazelton and the Senator's office for stepping in for this. One of the reasons why this purchase was approved was that FEMA liked the idea that the equipment will be able to be used for Portland Fire Department's equipment too, and they liked the idea that another department could benefit from it," stated King at the meeting of the Brocton Village Board.
The use of the grant required 20 percent to be given in matching funds, which the department agreed to supply from their fundraising coffers.
The equipment will be able to wash and dry two to four sets of gear within an hour, and will also handle gloves and boots according to King. The 50 kW generator that will power the washer and dryer will also be able to cover electrical service for the entire hall in case of an emergency outage. This also helped with the appeal process, as King pointed out the hall was deemed an official fallout shelter in the 1960s.
Bids will be going out before September for a generator and the specific electrical engineering required for the installation process.
"Almost every department in this area has a set up of the same type, and certain specifications have to be met to obtain and install the equipment. But these really will extend the life of our gear an additional five to 10 years," King added.
In other public safety matters, the village board authorized Mayor Hazelton to sign an agreement with The Law Offices of Mark C. Butler, PLLC for his proposal to assist the village, Town of Portland and Portland Fire Department's governing Fire Commis-sioners with the ongoing certificate of need issue.
"I've talked to the representative in Albany who is working with us on this, and the entire tone of our conversation changed once I mentioned we were contacting Mr. Butler. He thinks he may have a fairly simple fix for this situation, which would be for the Town of Portland to apply for its own ambulance district covering the town. At that point, the town could contract with us or anyone they want to. It won't change the way of responding. At this point the town doesn't have the right to run or hire an ambulance service. Once this would be done, they could ask us to provide ambulance coverage," Hazelton said.
Village Attorney Sam Drayo requested the mayor clarify that the town will be considered the lead agency in the matter and that any costs incurred will be split equally between the village, town and Fire Commis-sioners.
Hazelton also announced that the Brocton Fire Department's ambulance crew has been returned to Advanced Life Support certification status, and the board unanimously approved the addition of Steven Smith and Warren French to the insurance rolls.