Several local fire departments, including Kings Park and Smithtown are the recipients of a $791,600 grant that will be divided among the awarded group.
The grant, given to Smithtown, Kings Park, Melville, Halestie and Centerport Fire Departments, was awarded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, according to announcement from U.S. Reps. Tim Bishop and Steve Israel.
The money will be used to purchase upgraded breathing equipment commonly known as Scott Packs for responders to fire calls.
“I strongly support the Fire Grant program,” said Bishop in a statement, “It leverages federal resources to ensure local first responders have the best equipment available without relying solely on local taxpayers.”
A new OSHA mandate requires the departments to upgrade their breathing equipment. The mandate, which is unfunded, necessitates that all current packs be replaced within the next year. Each pack costs about $6,000.
Typically, a department would file on their own for a grant. Smithtown Fire Department Secretary, Tom Buffa thought they would be more successful if they filed as a group.
“We applied for a regional grant, chances are better for this type of grant,” he said. "This grant comes as a result of an innovative regional partnership among the departments and will help make sure our firemen are safe as they do their job protecting lives and property in fire emergencies," said Buffa.
Buffa received calls yesterday informing him of the award.
“I was surprised at the amount,” he said. “It is the biggest we have ever seen.”