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Smithtown Fire District wins $85G federal grant

The Smithtown Fire District is slated to receive an $84,825 federal grant next week to purchase an exhaust extraction system for emergency vehicles, lawmakers announced Tuesday.

The new system will attach to the tailpipes of firetrucks at the department's headquarters to vent diesel exhaust outside the fire station, said Smithtown Fire Commissioner Tom Buffa. He praised the system as necessary "for the health and safety" of firefighters.

"Right now, the fumes are in the firehouse," Buffa said. "It's similar to running a car inside of your house."

Smithtown received the funding through the national Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The program was co-sponsored by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) for grants that can be used for training, equipment, wellness and fitness, and modifications to fire stations and facilities. "This investment will help ensure that our local heroes can continue their lifesaving work . . . as effectively and safely as possible," Schumer said.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) said, "Firefighters put their lives on the line . . . and they deserve the best technology available to ensure their firehouses are a safe and healthy environment."

Kevin Mulrooney, vice president of JSK Inc. -- a company specializing in writing fire grants that was hired by the Smithtown Fire District -- said that in 2011, the district shared a similar grant with Melville, Centerport, Kings Park and Halesite for about $786,000 for updating self-contained breathing apparatuses. Last year, Smithtown received about $122,000 to be used over four years to recruit volunteer firefighters, Mulrooney said.

Schumer and Bishop were joined in Tuesday's announcement by Sen. Kristen E. Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY, 3rd Dist.).

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