Local fire departments get more than a half-million dollars in SAM grants

— File photo

Last year, Senator Michelle Hinchey visited the Altamont firehouse and posed with firefighter Mike Murphy; Dave Cowan, president of the Altamont Fire Department; and Altamont Chief Kyle Haines. This week, she announced the department is receiving $250,000 in SAM funds for a new pumper engine.

The volunteer fire departments serving Altamont and Berne received the most among six local districts  that are getting a total of $559,942 in State and Municipal Facilities Capital funding announced Friday by Senator Michelle Hinchey.

The Altamont Fire Department is receiving $250,000 and the Berne fire district is getting $100,000.

Altamont will buy a pumper engine outfitted with hoses, ladders, air bottles, personal protective equipment, and hand tools. The new apparatus will replace one that is being retired from service.

“Senator Hinchey visited Altamont Fire Department, heard our concerns, and stepped up for us in a big way by helping us secure the funding we needed to replace our pumper engine, which had reached over 20 years of frontline service,” said Nicholas Fahrenkopf, village trustee and Altamont Fire Department liaison, in a release from the senator’s office.

“Between price increases and supply-chain issues, even the most basic fire truck was out of reach for us, and without Senator Hinchey’s help, we would still be chasing a moving target, trying to save money into at least 2024,” he went onn. “Now, the pumper is on order, and we expect to be able to put it in service in late 2023.”

Berne will use its grant to help fund the purchase of a generator and also to connect the fire district’s training classroom to broadband.

“The officers and members of the East Berne Fire Company deeply appreciate the generous $100,000 grant secured by Senator Hinchey, which will fund the installation of a generator that will enable the department to provide essential firefighting and community services during natural disasters, including maintaining water and food for residents and a temporary place to shelter,” said Berne Fire District Board of Commissioners Vice-Chair Mary Alice Molgard in the release.

“In addition,” she went on, “the grant will outfit a training classroom with broadband connections and appropriate audio-visual equipment so firefighters can remain up to date on firefighting techniques and procedures. Firefighters can attend mandated NY State training without having to travel long distances and enroll in online-only courses. Savings in time, resources, and taxpayer money will be significant thanks to this grant delivered by the Senator.”

Schonowe Fire Department Rotterdam Fire District 7 was given $59,942 and three other departments were given $50,000 each: Ames Volunteer Fire Department, the Town of Mohawk Fire Department, and the Hagaman Fire Department.

“This grant funding for our Capital Region firehouses is an investment in the safety of our communities and in the first responders who are always there to answer the call, putting the lives of others before their own,” said Hinchey in the release.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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