The Binghamton Fire Department (BFD) has received a $150,000 grant, secured by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, for safety gear and equipment.

The department employs 117 firefighters and protects 47,000 Binghamton residences within an 11.5-square-mile area. It operates five stations throughout the city and performs high and low-angle, elevator, river and confined space rescues. With the state funding, the department purchased 30 sets of turnout gear, which included items like helmets, cancer-barrier prevention hoods, other clothing necessities and bail-out systems.

“My thanks to [Lupardo] for securing this funding,” Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham said. “This new gear will allow the men and women of the [BFD] to continue working to protect residents and do their jobs safely.”

The grant comes after Gov. Kathy Hochul established a capital funding program that made $25 million available to New York state volunteer fire departments to upgrade their personal protective equipment and $10 million to “offset the costs of training courses which volunteer firefighters are required to complete.” Funding applications are due April 30.

Alan Gardiner, the BFD’s chief, expressed gratitude to Lupardo, saying that the new equipment would protect the firefighters who risk their lives to protect city residents from danger.

“Turnout gear is an integral part of a protective envelope firefighters don in the event of [an] emergency,” Gardiner said. “Most importantly it enables [them] to perform their duties and work in dangerous environments most of us wouldn’t consider. It is critical this gear meets or exceeds the standards set by the National Fire Protection Agency to afford the utmost protection for our firefighters.”

In response to the grant funding, Jackie Bray, the state’s homeland security and emergency services commissioner, described the strain the climate crisis has placed on volunteer fire departments.

“Volunteer fire departments are the backbone of emergency response in communities statewide, and in recent years, they have been called upon to do more in the face of new threats and the growing impacts of climate change,” Bray wrote. “Unfortunately, however, many departments struggle to make the facility upgrades and equipment purchases needed to fulfill these expanded missions. Thanks to the leadership of [Hochul], this $25 million will help ensure these brave public servants have the facilities and equipment necessary to keep their communities safe in times of emergency.”

Statewide Democrats’ environmental agenda has included Lupardo’s effort to pass a bill banning liquid carbon dioxide fracking in New York state in partnership with State Sen. Lea Webb ‘04. The State Senate recently passed the NY HEAT Act, legislation designed to mitigate energy costs for consumers as the state transitions to greater renewable energy usage.

Despite a packed legislative schedule and a long list of issues, Lupardo said updating protective equipment for local firefighters was a top priority.

“This is especially important for firefighters whose turnout gear is replaced every 10 years,” Lupardo said. “We are grateful to our firefighters for risking their own safety to protect the community and have an obligation to help keep them safe.”