WESTFIELD - A federal grant secured by New York's two U.S. senators is expected to help the Westfield Fire Department secure new equipment.
Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, announced Thursday that $126,000 in federal funding would be used to purchase new self contained breathing apparatus for Westfield firefighters. The grant was allocated through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"We are grateful to be awarded this grant to enhance firefighter safety," said Westfield Fire Chief Stephen Pacanowski. "Without these funds it would have taken time to update the equipment needed to adhere to state mandates."
Schumer said firefighter safety was crucial in obtaining the money.
"With this funding, Westfield firefighters will be safer as they pursue their important work protecting life and property," he said. "This investment for new SCBA equipment will help ensure that our local heroes can continue their life-saving work and will enable them to respond as effectively and safely as possible."
Gillibrand echoed a similar statement.
"This is an important investment for the fire department of Westfield," she said. "It's our responsibility to ensure our first responders have the most up to date equipment to serve our communities.
"These new air packs will help the fire department of Westfield respond to emergencies more efficiently and effectively, and help save more lives."
Through the grant, the fire department will purchase 20 new air packs. The equipment will meet regulations set by the state Department of Labor, Schumer said.
The Westfield Fire Department serves more than 5,000 residents.
Schumer was an original sponsor of the legislation that created the funding program. He noted the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is designed to fund equipment, wellness and fitness and modifications to fire stations and facilities.
The grant program also assists local fire departments in programs and activities to improve the effectiveness of firefighting operations through specialized emergency training for response to situations like terrorist attacks; enhancement of emergency medical services programs; development of health and safety initiatives; establishment of fire education and prevention programs; creation of wellness and fitness programs; and equipment and facility upgrades.