Special to the OBSERVER
U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand recently announ-ced $364,320 in federal funding for nine Western New York fire departments in Chautauqua County and $47,785 in federal funding for the Allegany Volunteer Fire Department in Cattaraugus County.
The Lakewood Fire Department applied for this funding on behalf of the Ashville, Busti, Celeron, Clymer, Frewsburg, James-town, Kiantone, Panama, and Lakewood Fire Departments.
The money was allocated through the Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG) and will be used to purchase mobile radio units that will be fitted in fire trucks to allow better communication between law enforcement and other fire departments during multiple-alarm fires. This funding will aid Chautauqua County in putting its new $6 million radio system-which will soon be operational-into practice and allow fire departments across the county to better communicate during emergency situations.
In Cattaraugus County, the Allegany Fire Department will use these funds to purchase five new self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA) and 10 new sets of turnout gear. These SCBA air-packs help firefighters breathe when in burning buildings and hazardous environments. Turnout gear typically includes coats, pants, boots, gloves, helmets and hood for interior firefighting.
"These much-needed federal funds will help nine Chautauqua fire departments upgrade critical technology and help the Allegany Fire Department purchase new breathing apparatuses and the turnout gear, all of which help keep our firefighters safe and more effective when doing their life-saving work," said Schumer. "Our first responders are our local heroes and primary line of defense they safeguard our residents and protect our property. It's crucial that we provide them with the cutting-edge equipment they need to do their jobs and save lives."
"The Chautauqua fire departments and Allegany Volunteer Fire Department will benefit greatly from this funding," said Gillibrand. "This important investment will give these Western New York first responders access to the critical tools and equipment they need to perform more efficiently and save more lives."
"This really enhances our ability to communicate between departments and with law enforcement, and utilize the county's new trunked radio system," said Daniel Imfeld, Firefighter, EMT, and Deputy HAZMAT Coordinator for Chautauqua County. "Being able to communicate between the different departments really enhances the safety of our firefighters."
"We're happy to receive this grant. This money is going to be used to purchase new equipment to keep our interior firefighters safe from harm," said Robby Jones, 3rd Asst. Fire Chief for the Allegany Volunteer Fire Department.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grants are administered by the Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the Department's United States Fire Administration. The grants are awarded on a competitive basis to the applicants that most closely address the program's priorities and demonstrate financial need.
More information on the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program can be accessed at www.fema.gov/firegrants.