Fire department receives $285K grant
WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen Fire Department recently received a $285,000 grant for the replacement of a 27-year-old truck in their service. The fire district of Watkins Glen, New York is 58 square miles. Only some 20 percent of the area—roughly 12 square miles—is equipped with fire hydrants, posing a major challenge to Judson Smith, the department’s fire chief. “We and our mutual aid partners are heavily dependent upon mobile water to execute our firefighting obligations in this rural response area,” he says.
“On top of that,” Smith adds, “the equipment we had put together to serve as our tanker truck, starting with a Volvo cab and chassis back in 1986, had become too unsafe in October of last year to continue operating.”
The award of a $285,000 grant, then, from the Assistance to Firefighter Grants, a unit of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to purchase a new tanker truck is of great value to the department, Smith said. The local share is $15,000, totaling $300,000 in funding.
The old tanker that stopped working last year could pump 125 gallons per minute. “The new vehicle,” he said, “will be able to pump a minimum of 750 gallons per minute, and give our 50 volunteers the ability to rapidly establish a water supply that will lead to vastly improved firefighting capabilities.” He added the implications for enhanced saving of lives and homes were “undeniable.”
The Grants Chief of FEMA’s Region II, Dale McShine, announced the Watkins Glen grant. “The AFG program has been assisting firefighters and those they serve for more than a decade, and this grant continues to demonstrate the spirit and purpose of the program,” she said.
“This AFG grant naturally increases the effectiveness of Chief Smith’s volunteers in his large fire district,” said R. Mark Swinnerton Jr., mayor of Watkins Glen. Noting that Chief Smith’s department averages more than 700 alarms every year throughout Schuyler County, the mayor said “this new tanker truck adds formidable strength and reach to the department’s capabilities. We all benefit, residents and visitors alike.”