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Congressman Higgins & Mayor Brown Announce $322,400 Federal Fire Grant for Buffalo

Jan 21, 2011
Press Release

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27), City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield, Jr. announced a new federal grant totaling $322,400 for the Buffalo Fire Department.

January 21, 2011- Fire Grants Announcement

“This significant federal grant will continue to build on the critical investments protecting our firefighters and making our streets safer,” said Congressman Higgins, who is newly appointed to the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee.   “I commend the city administration and fire department leaders for putting in the hard work necessary to build a qualifying grant application and help deliver these funds to Buffalo.”

“We are constantly looking to upgrade the equipment and technology of the Buffalo Fire Department to ensure that our firefighters have the best available resources to protect our residents and guard our firefighters’ safety while carrying out their duties,” said Mayor Brown. “Thanks to the key support of Congressman Higgins, this federal grant will continue the progress we have made in modernizing the Fire Department’s apparatus, both for training and on-the-job purposes. This past October we opened the new $3.9 million Bailey/Kensington fire station and in December we invested $1.7 million in two new pumper trucks and a new ladder truck, all of which were paid through city bond funds. I have added another $1.5 million in the 2011 city capital budget for additional equipment upgrades to the BFD.”

The federal grant will allow the Department to purchase a fire truck driving simulator system.  The new equipment will improve the safety of firefighters and the citizens they serve in the City of Buffalo.

The virtual driving system will be used to train firefighters best practices for driving in difficult situations.  The Department will develop a driver training program which will include classroom instruction, simulation using the new equipment followed by actual behind-the-wheel training to improve safety while responding to and returning from emergency incidents. In addition to improving safety, the Department expects the equipment will result in significant savings by reducing the cost of backfilling the firefighters injured during vehicle accidents.

Fire Commissioner Whitfield said, "The Buffalo Fire Department is the beneficiary of, and very grateful for, the strong support and leadership of Congressman Higgins, Mayor Brown and his entire team. The men and women of this department have always done an exemplary job of responding to emergencies within our community and this additional equipment will help us to focus on the prevention of accidents while responding to and returning from these calls for service."

Over the last three years Buffalo has received $1,870,400 in federal funding. In 2009 Congressman Higgins announced $758,400 in federal funds used toward the purchase of new personal protective equipment, including helmets and turn out gear, for Buffalo Firefighters.  Last year the City received a $789,600 federal fire grant which helped to buy new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBAs) for the firefighters.

The Buffalo Fire Department answers a total of over 33,000 calls each year and protects the over 350,000 citizens and daily visitors to the City.   The Department was awarded this grant under the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP) which makes funds available for Operations and Safety improvements including: training, equipment, personal protective equipment, wellness, and safety modification to the station and facilities. These awards are administered by the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.

Congressman Higgins was an original co-sponsor and strong supporter of the Fire Grants program and aggressively pursues federal funds for local fire companies which has resulted in over $13.164 million dollars to fire departments in his district over the last 5 years, more than double the amount awarded on average to each district.