SCHENECTADY – In need of replacing its aging supply of thermal imaging cameras, the Fire Department will receive $57,454 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency for eight new cameras.
From FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant, it covers all but $5,745 of the approximately $63,200 for the eight thermal imaging cameras. The city will pay the small difference.
Assistant Fire Chief Don Mareno applied for the grant, saying it was his first foray in grant-writing.
The department’s grant-writing position is vacant.
“I told staff, ‘I won’t get this, but it’s good practice for me, and then I’ll try another one,'” Mareno said.
The department had initially penciled the full $63,200 as a capital budget request, meaning the grant will save taxpayers $57,454 as budget season approaches.
The Fire Department already has thermal imaging cameras, but they’re about 10 years old and “tired,” Mareno said.
Several of the existing cameras can’t be repaired because parts are no longer being made.
“As helpful as ours were,” he said, “these new ones will be even more so. They have a few more features that will be extremely helpful.”
The cameras detect people’s movements and objects such as furniture in smoke-filled rooms.
Schenectady’s award was part of more than $11.4 million announced recently by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for more than 90 fire departments across New York state.
The city of Amsterdam received $62,506.
The funding will be used to provide protective gear, training, and supplies to emergency personnel.
“From the peak of the pandemic to now, our brave firefighters have always been on the front lines, risking their lives to protect their communities,” Schumer said in a statement. “These courageous first responders deserve all the federal support possible to help them do their jobs.”
Meanwhile, Mareno said he’s awaiting the result of a second grant for which he’s applied. It’s for a “smokehouse” trailer that would be used as an educational tool.
Schenectady already has a smokehouse, which resembles the inside of a home and is used for teaching fire safety at community events and schools, Mareno said. But that too is aging, at more than 25 years old.
Mareno said his grant-writing efforts are only short term. The city will eventually advertise the position through Civil Service.