And now an update to a story we broadcast early last month: A federal grant that will enable the Albany Fire Department to purchase a state-of the art mobile fire training center has come through.
Something local firefighters say they desperately needed to help hone their skills, something New York U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer fought for, will soon be part of the fire department's arsenal of training tools. During a recent visit to Albany, the Democrat and Senate Minority Leader said Albany’s application for a federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant that would allow the city fire department to purchase a mobile fire simulator trailer has been approved. Schumer pushed for it during a recent visit to Engine 10 on Brevator Street. "They can do live fire-training with propane-fed flames to give the firefighters the real heat and fire experience. They can fill a room with synthetic smoke, that stuff, so they practice search and rescue when there's no visibility."
The funding was allocated through the Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. "FEMA has heard our call and has now awarded the Albany Fire Department $426,000 to purchase the training simulator."
Firefighters have been traveling to the suburbs of Colonie or Bethlehem to train. "They sometimes didn't get the time. They didn't get the ability to do the training they needed, both for new firefighters and for people updating their training. And now they'll have it and they have assured me that when the Albany Fire Department isn't using the training facility, they will let other fire departments in the Capital Region, career and volunteer, use them."
The simulator will be able to make the rounds from firehouse to firehouse in the Capital Region, to do hands-on training, address fire behavior, forcible entry, ventilation, search and rescue, firefighter bailout and fire suppression.
Albany Fire Chief Warren Abriel thanked Senator Schumer. "This is something that wouldn't be an everyday expense, probably wouldn't be in our budget. We received this federal grant from FEMA and the members are overjoyed. As kind of a thank-you I'd like to give Senator Schumer…
Schumer: …Oh, thank you very nice…
Chief: …a fire department sweatshirt, hopefully you'll wear it in good health, we really appreciate it.
Schumer: Thank you chief, well I know you'll put these dollars to great use and it'll mean more lives saved, fewer people injured, both the civilians, the rank and file who they protect, and the men and women who work in the department."
Officials estimate they'll take delivery on the new piece of equipment in less than a year.