The Stewart Manor Fire Department has received a $150,000 state grant for a new ambulance. Stewart Manor Fire Department Deputy Chief Tom Skinner worked on the grant with state Senator Jack Martins, who secured it for the fire department. Skinner said conversations he initiated with Martins last year led to the grant, saving local taxpayers the expense.
“If we buy a truck for $150,000, that’s a lot out of taxpayers’ pockets,” Skinner said, adding that the current ambulance has been in service for 10 years and should have already been replaced.
He credited Martins for coming to the aid of the fire department. “He definitely has our back. Jack has been super,” Skinner said.
Skinner said the grant was submitted a year ago and the department recently received word from the state Dormitory Authority that the grant had been approved. Skinner said the fire department plans to seek bids on the ambulance in August and will be reimbursed by the Dormitory Authority after the vehicle is purchased.
“We depend on our volunteer firefighters and EMTs in times of crisis to save lives and protect us from harm. Providing the department with this new state of the art ambulance will enhance their ability to respond to medical emergencies and provide high quality care to those in need,” Martins said.
Skinner said the fire department has 15 emergency medical technicians among its 45 members. Four new members have recently joined the department, which he said is actively seeking more members.
Martins also restored a $100,000 grant to the Stewart Manor Fire Department originally secured by former state Senator Craig Johnson, who lost his seat in the 7th state Senate District to Martins in the 2010 election. The fire department used that grant this year to obtain $40,000 in new firefighting gear, a new kitchen and flooring for department headquarters. State Senate Democrats still in the majority after Martins’ victory over Johnson left more than $2 million grants Johnson had pledged to local fire departments in limbo after that election. Martins subsequently restored the grants over the past several years.
Skinner said he is also working with Martins to create a committee of Nassau County volunteer firefighters to interface with the agencies that establish mandates for fire departments, such as the rope rescue system for individual firemen that cost the Stewart Manor approximately $22,000 to implement a few years ago.
The purpose of the committee, Skinner said, would be “to discuss these mandates before they’re handed down so we don’t waste money on mandates that don’t apply to us.”
The rope systems, mandated by the state Department of Labor, are no longer required. Only training on the systems is required, Skinner said. While the Stewart Manor supports neighboring fire departments, Stewart Manor itself contains no high-rise buildings. The rope system was mandated statewide a few years ago following the death of New York City firemen fighting a high-rise blaze.
“That’s my concern with the mandates, that they change them after the money’s spent,” Skinner said.
In January 2014, Skinner said the state also mandated that fire department statewide be equipped with narcotics for emergency medical calls. But now, that requirement has been put on hold—after the Stewart Manor bought safes for its ambulance and the chief’s office to store the drugs.
Skinner said the committee concept will be addressed at a meeting of Nassau County fire department chiefs later this month.