By Nicholas Spangler
The Amityville Fire Department will buy new breathing equipment to protect firefighters from heat, smoke and chemicals, thanks to a $218,080 federal grant secured with the help of Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).
Other grants will go to departments in the City of Long Beach and Cold Spring Harbor.
"If it saves one life, if it keeps one person from permanent injury, it's vital," said King, who argued that the village's proximity to New York City and the continued threat of a terrorist attack there make preparedness essential for its firefighters.
"They have to be ready to go in at a moment's notice," he said. "They could be taken out of Amityville, and they have to be ready to be part of the war on terrorism."
The new pieces of equipment, known as a self-contained breathing apparatus, cost about $6,400 each. The village will buy 35 in the coming months and put them into service in the fall, Chief Robert Waegerle said.
"It's a big deal," he said. Similar equipment already in use at the department was made obsolete after new standards were introduced by the National Fire Prevention Association in 2013.
Among other advances, he said, the newer equipment is built to withstand higher temperatures.
Given the department's relatively small size and routine maintenance costs on other equipment, replacing the breathing equipment without the grant would have been undertaken piecemeal and could have taken years, he said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency grant will be formally announced by the agency.
Village officials paid Williston Park-based public safety consultants JSK Inc. $2,500 last fall to write the grant. "We're pretty excited about that return on investment," trustee Nick LaLota wrote in an email.
The Amityville Fire Department handled 1,485 calls last year, Waegerle said. About 900 were for rescues and the rest were for fires.