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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is awarding $1,073,178 in funding to Long Island under the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program. Both the Floral Park ($128,250) and Stewart Manor ($38,000) Fire Departments have been awarded AFG grants.

On Wednesday morning, Jan. 14, Chief Frank Wakely Jr. of the Floral Park Fire Department received notification that his department received the grant award. The Floral Park Fire Department writes for assistance grants each year. This latest grant was written to provide new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) to local firefighters. This equipment will be used to replace the aging equipment currently in use.

Chief Wakely reported that through the efforts of Ex-Chief Joseph O'Grady and Ex-Captain Dave Fernandez the department has been awarded over $400,000 in grant awards since it began the grant writing process over six years ago. The committee worked diligently for several years on the most recent grant application and their persistence has paid off in the latest series of grant awards. This equipment provides firefighters the newest technology for their personal breathing protection during firefighting operations. This in turn allows the department to continue to provide the best possible fire and rescue services to residents.

The purpose of the FY 2008 AFG is to award grants directly to fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service (EMS) organizations. These awards aim to enhance first responders' ability to protect the health and safety of the public, as well as that of first-responder personnel, with respect to fire-related hazards.

"This is welcome news for Long Island, and for the first responders who put their lives on the line to provide critical relief in times of emergency," Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said in making the announcement. "This wise investment will help to ensure that our firefighters have the resources they need to continue to protect the communities they faithfully serve."

The AFG grants will support Operations and Safety programs and Vehicle Acquisition programs for the Floral Park and Stewart Manor Fire Departments. According to DHS, Operations and Safety programs encompass eligible activities for fire departments and nonaffiliated EMS organizations and are limited to training, equipment, personal protective equipment, wellness and fitness and health and safety modifications to stations and facilities. Vehicle Acquisition programs include eligible apparatus available to fire departments under this program area including, but not limited to, pumpers, brush trucks, tankers/tenders, rescue vehicles, ambulances, quints, aerials, foam units and fireboats.

DHS describes the AFG program as an important component of the administration's larger, coordinated effort to strengthen the nation's overall level of preparedness and ability to respond to fire and fire related hazards. Since 2004, with the Fiscal Year 2008 awards, AFG has provided a total of almost $2.75 billion to first-responder organizations to purchase response equipment, personal protective equipment and vehicles.


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