The Citizen, Auburn, N.Y.
Aug. 17—A handful of Cayuga County fire departments have been awarded federal grants to purchase new firefighting equipment.
Four departments within the Springport Fire District — Aurelius, Cayuga, Fleming No. 2 and Union Springs — will split a $290,542 grant to buy new firefighter turnout gear — protective equipment that includes boots, coats, gloves, hats, hoods and pants — and wildland gear for fighting brush fires.
Union Springs Fire Chief Garret Waldron told The Citizen that the grant will largely fund the $305,070 equipment purchase for the four departments, which must pay 5% of the total cost as a condition of the grant. Aurelius, Cayuga and Union Springs will be able to buy 62 new sets of turnout gear. Fleming No. 2 will get 15 sets of turnout gear and 10 sets of wildland gear.
Union Springs’ share of the project is $104,000, with Cayuga close behind at $96,000. The new equipment for Fleming will cost $57,070 and $48,000 for Aurelius.
There was strength in numbers for the grant, which was awarded through the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Waldron said the agency tends to favor applications submitted by multiple departments.
It will also provide a huge boost to the departments that won’t have to shoulder the financial burden of the equipment purchases.
“That’s very important because of the cost of the gear and the new (National Fire Protection Association) standards of turnout gear,” Waldron said. “It’s very important that we keep our members protected, especially with cancer-causing agents nowadays.”
He added later, “We’re quite happy.”
Waldron explained that the funds can be used to buy hoods to protect firefighters from carcinogens. Those hoods tend to be more expensive — $99 per hood, he said — than a $30 hood without that additional level of protection.
A fifth fire company in Cayuga County, the Sempronius Fire Department, has also been awarded a federal grant. The department will receive $41,904 for the purchase of a new air compressor and filler station for self-contained breathing apparatuses, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office.
Schumer, D-N.Y., and U.S. Rep. John Katko, whose district includes all of Cayuga County, supported the grant applications.
Katko, who is the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, said he’s made it a priority to support local fire departments.
“I’ve proudly delivered resources to support those who serve and protect our community, and I’m glad these new funds will allow local firefighters to be better protected in the line of duty,” he said.
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.
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