Two NY Fire Departments to Use FEMA Funds for EMS, Fire Upgrades

The photo shows the inside of an ambulance.
File Photo

Chris Potter

The Evening Tribune, Hornell, N.Y.

(MCT)

A challenging time for anyone — an ambulance ride to the hospital — will soon be a little more comfortable for patients served by the Hornell Fire Department.

The department has been awarded a $205,568 grant from FEMA to provide new power cots for the city’s full fleet of ambulances. Hornell Fire Chief Frank Brzozowski said the new cots will be a welcome, much-needed addition, one that wouldn’t have been possible anytime soon without the grant.

“Our cots are quite aged. We were looking to get some replacements but they’re very costly to get the load systems and the cots,” said Brzozowski. “We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the grant. It was huge.”

The cots won’t just make for an easier ride for patients; they will also limit the chance of workplace injury for Hornell medics.

“It’s two-fold. It’s better safety equipment, it’s safer for the patient, but it also provides more back safety for the medics because of the load systems,” said the chief.

The Hornell Fire Department will perform the installs on site, saving some additional funds. The FEMA grant includes a 5% local match.

Having top of the line equipment is crucial for the Hornell Fire Department. In August, the department made 288 ambulance runs compared to 41 fire runs. Those responses included 28 runs for respiratory emergencies, nine for MVAs, seven for trauma and three for overdoses.

The village of Canisteo’s fire department will also benefit from a significant FEMA grant. The department netted a $106,285 grant with a local match of $5,314.29. Canisteo Mayor Monica Recktenwald called the grant funding a “huge value” to the department and village.

The grant will be used to purchase new coats, structural helmets, pants and boots for Canisteo firefighters.

“The current equipment is past its useful life and in desperate need of replacement,” said Recktenwald. “The Village Department has a roster of 50 members with our main priority being member safety. This grant allows us to provide the updated equipment our members need to respond to calls safely, with the use of funds from federal resources instead of through property taxes.

“We want to thank the department for continuing to explore funding opportunities available in order to assist with the large appropriations.”

This month the Hornell Board of Public Safety approved bids for a pair of new ambulances as the city looks to duplicate its police vehicle program at the fire department. In recent years the city entered into a leasing program for its police vehicles, cycling out older cars with high maintenance costs.

“That’s what we’re trying to do with the ambulance now,” said Mayor John Buckley. “We just acquired a new ambulance a year or so ago, and entered into a lease agreement to basically bring in two new rigs and then we’ll get rid of the two worst ones. A few years later when the lease is up, we’ll do the same thing and have that program in place so we always have new ambulances in the pipeline.

“It makes sense for the department and the city from a fiscal standpoint and definitely from a budgeting standpoint, because you always have an idea of what those costs are going to be.”

Buckley hailed an “innovative” in-house training program recently implemented at the fire department. Brzozowski said it was a natural transition with more and more trainings over Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic. The in-house trainings allowed the department to maximize its personnel during a period of transition with a number of retirements in a short time period. The department has added four new hires in 2021.

“They’ve looked at some of the other departments in the region that have done this successfully, and been working alongside our partners at the state to make sure we’re implementing it correctly,” said Buckley. “I think there’s a huge benefit to doing it in house. It has been successful so far and we plan to continue that in the future.”

The fire department received some reinforcements at this month’s meeting. Brian May, one of the recently retired firefighters, was approved as a call man for the department.

“We always try to keep our retirees active. He was a vital cog in the department for a long time and did a great job for us providing tremendous service,” said Buckley. “We’re happy to keep him on in this capacity.”

Chris Potter can be reached at cpotter@gannett.com or on Twitter @ChrisPotter413.


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