Tonawanda News

August 31, 2013

NT fire gets federal boost

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda Fire Department will get a boost from the federal government for its code enforcement oversight. 

The department was informed by Rep. Brian Higgins on Wednesday that it would receive $40,644 in federal grant funding as part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program’s Fire Prevention & Safety initiative, according to Assistant Fire Chief Joe Sikora. The funding was provided through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

North Tonawanda City Firefighter Robert Orlowski, who also serves as the department’s grant writer, said the money will be used for a variety of initiatives including obtaining contact information, pertinent construction details, onsite hazards and other significant safety information.  

In addition to training certified code enforcement officers, Orlowski added the grant will allow for the purchase and installation of mobile data terminals in two command vehicles to provide immediate access to collected information in the field at the scene of an emergency. 

“The funding will allow for four firefighters to be trained and certified in code compliance so we can better protect multiple dwelling residences and businesses during emergency situations,” he said. 

Sikora added that the department has been utilizing only one code enforcement officer. The department serves a populace of approximately 30,000 residents, while in 2013 it responded to close to 3,200 calls.

In July, Higgins held his annual Firefighters Grant Program Workshop with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Representatives from the Department of Homeland Security were on hand to provide assistance to local community fire departments applying for grants through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program.

“Our first responders provide a critical service by helping to keep our communities safe,” said Higgins, in a statement released on Friday. “This grant funding will go toward taking proactive steps to address hazards that may lead to fire.”

The Fire Prevention and Safety Program supports projects at the local level to increase safety of firefighters and the public from fire and fire-related hazards, Higgins added.