Congressmembers Brian Higgins (NY-27) and Louise Slaughter (NY-28) joined City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Buffalo Fire Commissioner Michael Lombardo to announce the Buffalo Fire Department will receive $341,871 in federal Homeland Security funding in the sixth round of Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program (AFG) awards for fiscal year 2006.
“This grant will assist Buffalo’s professional firefighters meet their daily demands for fire, medical, Haz-Mat services as well as filling a growing need for resources that promote homeland security preparedness,” said Congressman Higgins.
Buffalo was awarded this grant under the Operations and Firefighter Safety Program, which is dedicated to funding training, equipment, personal protective equipment, wellness and fitness, and modifications to fire stations and facilities.
"This federal grant, through the Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program, will provide significant resources to the Buffalo Fire Department as it continues to upgrade and improve firefighting equipment across all companies in the City of Buffalo," said Mayor Brown. "Thanks to the support of Congressmembers Higgins and Slaughter, particularly the fire grant workshop held last year by Congressman Higgins for local fire departments, and the effective leadership of Buffalo Fire Commissioner Michael Lombardo, the Buffalo Fire Department will continue to add critically important equipment that will enhance fire suppression and other department-related activities."
Since 2001, the Buffalo Fire Department (BFD) reorganization has resulted in the closing of seven fire companies. Yet a 2003 study by the Massachusetts Municipal Association Consulting Company found that of 10 comparative jurisdictions, Buffalo experienced structure fires at 179 percent of the median for comparison cities.
The City Fire Department intends to use the federal grant to outfit five pumper trucks to ensure that the best equipment is available for firefighters stretched to fulfill fire needs, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Haz-Mat regional responsibilities. New equipment will include: air apparatus, communication devices, axes, saws, extinguishers, ladders, hydraulic door tools, generators, lights, hose equipment, EMS gear and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) units.
The 2006 Assistance to Firefighters program, which Congress appropriated, and President Bush signed into law, includes $485 million in direct assistance to firefighters to improve the effectiveness of firefighting operations, firefighter health and safety programs, and to establish or expand fire prevention programs throughout the United States. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness (SLGCP) administers the program, in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.
“Buffalo’s firefighters are risking their lives for us on a daily basis,” said Congresswoman Slaughter. “They deserve more than just our thanks. What they deserve is the best equipment available, and that is what this grant is for.”
In March of 2005, Congressman Higgins’ office held a fire grant workshop at the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department, where assistance was given to local fire departments in completing grant applications for this funding. On February 22, 2006 Congressman Higgins again hosted grant workshops in the Cities of Buffalo and Jamestown.
In 2005, the Buffalo Fire Department responded to 1465 structure fires and an additional 39 exposure structures in the City. In addition the BFD provides mutual fire aid to the City of Lackawanna and the Village of Kenmore. Buffalo is also responsible for Hazardous Materials Response in Lackawanna and at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga.