Nassau Fire Departments, First Responders Receive FEMA Grant

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Schumer, Mangano help secure $661,000 in funds for emergency radio upgrades

On Monday morning, Feb. 27, United States Senator Charles E. Schumer once again stood in front of the Floral Park Fire Department to reveal that he has successfully secured approximately $661,000 in funds from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to provide 71 Nassau County Fire Departments and Volunteer Ambulance Corps with upgraded radio equipment in order to meet upcoming federal radio mandates.  

In January, Schumer called on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to approve a $661,000 grant application, under the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, to purchase the radio equipment that meets the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) frequency mandate, which are set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. The monies would enable Nassau County to migrate to a state-of-the-art and FCC-compliant medical communications system.

Currently, all medical communications between NCPD’s Medical Control, the local fire departments and ambulance companies are conducted over a UHF frequency. The 20-year-old system is considered to be antiquated and not technologically advanced enough to be reprogrammed to meet FCC requirements. The new mandate will require that all emergency communications operate on a narrow-band frequency at 12.5 kHz efficiency and will allow for the creation of additional channel capacity within the same radio spectrum and support more users.

Schumer, joined by Nassau County Executive Mangano, Floral Park Mayor Thomas Tweedy, Nassau County Fire Commissioner C. Richard Gardner and local firefighters, praised the fire departments for their service to the Long Island community. “I’ve always said our volunteer firefighters deserve special tribute to us. They are like our soldiers. What do our soldiers do? They volunteer and risk their lives for our safety. What do our volunteer firefighters do? They volunteer and risk their lives for our safety,” Schumer said.

In an effort to get the federal grant approved, Schumer said he personally called FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate several times to urge the agency to support the grant. “We worked and got this done and the bottom line is very simple. You impose a mandate you ought to pay for it,” he said.

The senator also praised County Executive Mangano for arranging the funding applications. “Nassau County had the foresight to get all the fire departments together and apply at once and it made it more efficient and that’s an example of Ed (Mangano’s) leadership and that helped us get the grant,” Schumer added.

“Nassau County stands in close proximity to the New York City border, where just over 10 years ago we all learned of the importance interoperability communications is for first responders,” said Mangano. “It is this lesson that has moved us forward in technology and will require all emergency communication to operate on a narrow-band frequency in 2013. This grant demonstrates my administration’s commitment to enhancing public safety, without further burdening the taxpayer on the volunteer first responder. On behalf of all Nassau residents I thank Senator Schumer for securing the critical funds needed to pay for this otherwise unfunded mandate that would have driven up local costs.”

Gardner thanked all parties for their efforts in securing the monies. “I just want to thank the county executive’s office, the county police department and Senator Schumer’s office for coming together as one group to put in for this grant and prove that we really needed the money…and on behalf of all the firefighters, the EMTs and the volunteer ambulances of Nassau County I’d like to thank everybody,” he said.

 Tweedy also expressed his appreciation to Senator Schumer for securing the grants in order to meet the federal mandate requirements. “It’s a mandate, we have to do it and so therefore the funding from the senator is greatly appreciated,” Tweedy said.

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