September 15, 2020

State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Announces $474,782 Federal Grant to Replace State Fire Instructors' Air Packs

Funding Will Support Replacement of More Than 70 Air Packs Used by Instructors at New York State Academy of Fire Science

 Award Marks 7th Consecutive Year the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control Secured Funding through FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services today announced the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) has received $474,782 in federal funding to replace more than 70 breathing air packs used by instructors at the State’s Academy of Fire Science in Montour Falls which have reached the end of their service life. As required by this award, OFPC will provide a 15 percent match of more than $71,000 to complete the purchase of the air packs. This marks the seventh consecutive year the State Fire Academy was awarded funding through FEMA’s competitive nationwide Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

“New York State’s firefighters put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe and it’s our responsibility to help ensure they have the training and resources they need to do their jobs,” said New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Patrick A. Murphy. “New York already has one of the nation’s best fire academies and with this funding in hand we are able to ensure our intensive training programs are able to continue safely for both instructors and students.”

This most recent grant award will be used to replace the more than 70 outdated breathing air packs, or self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which fire instructors are required to use while conducting firefighter training in hazardous conditions.  The devices provide breathable air in dangerous atmospheres or environments, like smoke-filled rooms.  Each air pack costs approximately $7,500 and consists of two air supply cylinders, as well as a mask.

“The Academy of Fire Science in Montour Falls is an exceptional facility with trainers and staff who provide high-quality instruction to volunteer and career firefighters across the state,” said New York State Fire Administrator Francis “Skip” Nerney.  “Thanks to the hard work of our staff in securing this award for the seventh consecutive year, we are able to ensure our instructors are safe and protected while training New York’s next generation of firefighters.”

This 2020 award marks the seventh consecutive year in which the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control has been awarded funding through FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. Over the last several years, OFPC has used this funding to acquire state-of-the-art mobile training simulators which allow fire instructors to bring life-saving classes directly to firefighters, including search, rescue and survival training.  Additionally, funding has been used to improve the structure and grounds of the century-old facility, including parking lot repaving, roof replacement, rehabilitation of teaching and storage rooms, and asbestos abatement.  Living and learning environments were also improved, including state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, as well as new furniture and classroom equipment.

The State Academy of Fire Science trains nearly 50,000 firefighters annually, with approximately 5,000 of those receiving training at the Academy.  Training is delivered by more than 700 full-time and part-time fire instructors.  The residential training program at the Academy provides education for a variety of academic disciplines including fire suppression, fire department leadership and management, emergency medical services, hazardous materials, fire and arson investigation, fire prevention and code enforcement, incident management, technical rescue, and emergency response to terrorism.

After an initial suspension of onsite training due to the pandemic, State Fire implemented several changes to ensure an enhanced level of safety for recruit firefighters.  The changes include:

  • A significantly reduced number of course offerings to reduce occupancy;
  • The implementation of a single-room occupancy model in the dormitory to reduce density;
  • The installation of new physical barriers in the business and cafeteria areas of the Academy to support social distancing;
  • Modified food service to stagger cafeteria schedules, as well as replace buffet style service with individual meals being handed to each student by a single worker to support social distancing;
  • Modified classroom seating to incorporate social distancing;
  • Requiring all Academy occupants to wear facemasks whenever the potential for less than six feet of separation could occur;
  • The installation of additional hand sanitizing stations in all common areas; and
  • Ensuring housekeeping staff have the appropriate PPE and sanitizing supplies to ensure all common areas and touch points are cleaned and sanitized per Department of Health guidelines.

In July, 43 recruits completed their training by following the new safety measures put in place. A second class of firefighters are currently training at the Academy and will graduate in October.

About the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control

The Office of Fire Prevention and Control delivers a wide breadth of services to firefighters, emergency responders, state and local government agencies, public and private colleges, and the citizens of New York. The office advances public safety through firefighter training, education, fire prevention, investigative, special operations and technical rescue programs. The delivery of these essential services enables the office to make significant contributions to the safety of all of New York State.

About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services provides leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism and other man-made and natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies. For more information, visit the DHSES Facebook page, follow @NYSDHSES on Twitter, or Instagram, or visit dhses.ny.gov.

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