Montgomery County

Fire departments in Amsterdam and Fort Johnson receive federal funding for equipment

PHOTOGRAPHER:

MONTGOMERY COUNTY — A pair of local fire departments will replace aging equipment after receiving over $200,000 combined in federal grants.

The funding was included in the recently announced $11.5 million in Assistance to Firefighters Grants distributed to fire departments across the state through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The funding will be used to provide protective gear, training and supplies to emergency personnel across over 90 fire departments.

Included among the federal funding recipients locally are the Amsterdam Fire Department which has been awarded $62,506 and the Fort Johnson Volunteer Fire Company which has been awarded $147,489.

Amsterdam Fire Chief Anthony Agresta said his agency applied for the funding with the assistance of city grant writer Nicholas Zabawsky seeking to replace a pair of existing cardiac monitors that are around 14-years-old.

“Service and parts for the existing units were becoming hard to find,” Agresta said.

The department has a third existing unit that was acquired in 2017 that will continue to be used.

The monitors are vital tools for the ambulance service operated by the fire department that responds to roughly 2,400 calls each year.

“For almost every EMS call we use the monitors,” Agresta said. “It’s fantastic news that we were able to secure a grant for the much-needed replacement of equipment.”

Fort Johnson Fire Chief Alden Miller said his agency will use the funding to fully replace each of the department’s self-contained breathing apparatuses.

“We’re upgrading to newer and safer versions of the air packs,” Miller said.

The federal funding will replace the department’s 20 existing self-contained breathing apparatus units and the 40 canisters used to supply oxygen to the equipment.

Firefighters use the equipment while fighting fires and responding to any calls that may involve hazardous conditions, including possible carbon monoxide or chemical leaks.

“When we go inside a hazardous atmosphere we have to use the self-contained breathing apparatus,” Miller said. “We always try to be aware of any possible situation.”

The fire department had been seeking funding to replace the aging equipment for over a year, Miller said.

“It’s pretty expensive to outfit firefighters,” he added.

Both of the fire chiefs were unsure when the new equipment will arrive, saying their next steps will involve securing firm price quotes and selecting specific models to purchase.

“Our local firefighters are ready to answer the call and put their lives on the line to serve when we need them most,” said U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, in a prepared statement announcing the federal funding awards locally.

“Too often these brave men and women are forced to operate without updated equipment and with limited support. I’m pushing in Congress to ensure that our fire departments have the resources they need to effectively protect the public,” Tonko continued.

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