By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star
---- — The West Oneonta Fire Department recently got some good news from the federal government.
The department will $71,250 in federal funding to purchase 10 new self-contained breathing apparatus packs (SCBA). The funds were awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, according to a media release from Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
West Oneonta Fire Department Chief Walter P. Schmitt Jr. said in the release: “We are a small fire district in rural upstate New York, and economic times are having effects for all of us. This grant will be of a great morale booster for our department.”
The West Oneonta Fire Department will be replacing the current packs that are between 17 and 20 years old.
“With this funding, West Oneonta firefighters will be safer as they pursue their important keeping our community safe,” Schumer said. “This investment for new SCBA equipment will help ensure that our local heroes can continue their life-saving work and will enable them to respond as effectively and safely as possible.”
“This is an important investment,” Gillibrand said. It will ensure “our first responders have the most up-to-date equipment so they can perform at the highest level when they go into harm’s way to keep our families safe.”
Otsego County Emergency Services Coordinator Kevin Ritton said it was “great news” that will help the department get up-to-date equipment that local budgets might not otherwise be able to afford. The grants are a competitive process that one or two departments in the county might get each year, he said.