Officials including U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, State Sen. Catharine M. Young, R-Olean, and Allegany County District II Legislator Dwight “Mike” Healy joined Friendship Fire Department personnel on Saturday to announce a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant for the department.
As part of FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters grant program, the Friendship Fire Department will receive $261,000, which will be used to help replace outdated gear and equipment.
Reed credited the efforts of Friendship’s Board of Fire Commissioners, along with the Friendship Fire Department Inc., for coordinating the application.
With a total department tax levy of approximately $102,000, Reed said the award targeted toward real equipment will definitely make a difference.
“It will go a long way to help make sure these men and women called out 24/7, 365 days a year, have the resources and equipment to ensure they come home safe to their families,” Reed said. “When we come together on common ground, we can achieve good things. That’s what we did here today.”
Young called the award “fantastic news” for the community.
“Our fire departments are so vital to our health and wellbeing for all the people in our communities and it’s often so hard to get the resources necessary to deliver these fire services,” she said. “My hat is off to those who worked so hard to make sure this happen.”
Tom Cannon, chair of the Board of Fire Commissioners, said the department — and others in the region — have received some grants before.
“But nothing of this scale,” he said. “This is a competitive grant and the real message is that by doing this, we won’t have to increase our tax levy to the consumers here in the Friendship Fire District.”
Ed Baumgardner, President of the Friendship Fire Department, Inc. and a member since 1981, played a vital role in the application process. Through research, he found a grant-writing firm called Grantgenies that had an 85 percent success rate in obtaining awards. He served as a point-person for gathering figures and information.
“They did what they were supposed to do, so now we’re going to use them again, hoping for a grant that will replace a truck,” Baumgardner said. The fire department has also contracted with the same firm to assist with required reporting and other administrative tasks surrounding the grant award.
Baumgardner said a new pumper/rescue, or utility truck, will cost approximately $497,000.
The last new truck Friendship Fire Department obtained was in 2006, and its oldest, purchased in the early 1990s, is having difficulties.
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