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Congressman Higgins & Vigilant Fire Department Kick-Off Fire Prevention Week, Announce $176,250 Federal Grant

Oct 5, 2020
Press Release
Award to Support Communication & Breathing Equipment for West Seneca Department Volunteers

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) joined members of the Vigilant Fire Department to kick-off Fire Prevention Week with the announcement of a federal fire grant totaling $176,250 for the department in West Seneca. 

This past spring, the Vigilant Fire Department, known as West Seneca Fire District 6, applied for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for vital firefighting tools to help bridge a critical lack in equipment due to a budget shortfall. Fire Commissioner William Cleary spoke of the need to ensure volunteer firefighters have the necessary safety equipment while at the same time holding the line on taxes. Cleary said the five member commissioner board supported the grant initiative while striving to maintain a minimal tax levy. For the fourth straight year, the board has not raised taxes a penny.

Congressman Brian Higgins supported this grant request providing a strong letter of support to FEMA in favor of the proposal. Higgins said, ““Our dedicated volunteer firefighters sacrifice their time and lives to be available to answer the call at any given moment. This federal grant provides resources so our local first responders have the tools necessary to protect themselves and the communities they serve. We commend Vigilant Fire for their successful efforts to secure this highly competitive funding and we thank them for their service to the Town of West Seneca and Western New York region.”

Assistant fire chief John Gullo and his team worked closely with the department’s grant writer, Connie Miner to justify the need for 18 Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) with face piece masks and 18 handheld digital radios. The SCBA’s had reached their expiration shelf-life while the handheld radios would not keep a charge longer than 5 minutes and replacement parts are no longer made. Both tools are lifelines for firefighters during structure fires, motor vehicle extrications, search and rescue for missing persons, and dangerous situations such as water rescue and carbon monoxide or gas leaks. Both devices have alarm buttons that first responders can trigger when trapped or injured.

First responders are excited, with a sense of relief, anticipating deployment of the new equipment. Cleary reminded these volunteers of the process that requires the department to follow a rigid procurement policy to seek out the low bidder of a published specification that mirrors the grant proposal.

Though the equipment will be used by first responders, the ultimate beneficiaries are town residents during emergency calls for assistance. West Seneca Town Supervisor Gary Dickson commented, “The men and women who run towards danger in our town need the best available equipment. When the incident scene is safer, thanks to improved communications and higher-capacity air packs, the outcome for West Seneca residents and businesses are the better for it. This investment in equipment should translate to more lives and property saved.”

October 4 through 10th is recognized as National Fire Prevention Week, and annual reminder to promote fire prevention and safety measures.  This year’s theme is “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!”  For more information on how to protect your home and family from fire visit: