NORWICH – Congressman Richard Hanna met with fire and emergency officials from across Chenango County at the Norwich Fire Department Wednesday to discuss some of the pressing concerns of local fire departments and some of the challenges they currently face.
The congressman’s visit brought to light several concerns plaguing rural fire departments in the county as well as across the state. Topics discussed included fiscal restraints of local departments, the outdated condition of the county’s fire training facility, the possibility of shared equipment and joint grant applications among different departments, personnel, and perhaps the most challenging obstacle, the lack of volunteers in many all local fire districts.
“We just wouldn’t have fire protection if it weren’t for these rural volunteers, and these rural departments don’t even have the money to pay for equipment,” said Hanna. Approximately $640 million is available through federally funded programs, the most populate being the Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, he pointed out. Hanna is encouraging local departments to take advantage of any federally funded grant opportunities made available. Currently, AFG grants cover three separate categories: Operations and safety, vehicle acquisition, and regional projects.