By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — Congressman Brian Higgins didn't take long to show folks in the Falls he's engaged with his new constituents.
The Democratic lawmaker from Buffalo has announced that the Falls Fire Department has been awarded $42,400 in federal funding through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program.
The program provides direct assistance to local fire companies to improve the effectiveness of their firefighting operations. Last year, Congress approved over $337 million for the AFG program.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to announce that Niagara Falls is receiving the first federal fire grant in the new 26th Congressional District,” Higgins said.
The congressman, who sits on the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, has been a strong backer of the AFG program. Higgins brings Department of Homeland Security officials to Western New York every year to provide fire grant workshops for both professional and volunteer fire companies.
"Providing the best fire safety service possible is a top priority of my administration," Mayor Paul Dyster said. "With Congressman Higgins' support, Niagara Falls was able to secure federal assistance, so we can help Niagara Falls Firefighters keep our neighbors safe. These are difficult financial times, making Department of Homeland Security grants all the more important."
Falls firefighters responded to a record number of calls for service in 2012, in excess of 6,000 calls were answered. Fire officials say they plan to use the funding for firefighter training.
Grant applications are submitted to the Department of Homeland Security and go through a non-partisan, merit based review a panel of fire service professionals.