Schoharie Fire Training Facility Gets Senate Lift

James L. Seward

August 11, 2008

In Schoharie County today, State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I-Oneonta) announced $ 250,000 in senate capital funding for Schoharie County’s planned fire training facility.

"Property tax relief -- that’s the issue," Seward said. "It’s about helping local governments provide services for their constituents without hitting county taxpayers’ wallets, and giving our volunteer firefighters and first responders the equipment and facilities they need to protect our families and homes. I have great respect for our volunteer firefighters and EMTs, and they need our support."

Seward was joined by local officials, including Board of Supervisors Chairman Earl VanWormer and Judy Warner, director of Schoharie County Emergency Management Services, and Assemblyman Peter Lopez, (R/I/C-Schoharie).

The county is in the process of developing a fire training center and burn building to meet the training needs of the county’s volunteer firefighters. The facility, to be located on Howes Cave Road in the Town of Schoharie, will include a modern "live burn" structure, training classroom, hazardous materials ("haz-mat") training area and rope rescue training area. Currently, county fire departments must travel a significant distance to use a live fire training facility.

"Until now, development of the Schoharie County Fire Training Center had been out of reach for our hard working volunteers who have routinely been forced to travel many miles to use neighboring facilities," said Assemblyman Lopez. "I’m pleased to have worked in partnership with Senator Seward, and together with the efforts of the county board of supervisors and the property donation of Mr. Galasso, the center will become a reality."

Seward, as chairman of the Senate Task Force on Volunteer Emergency Services, has been a champion of policies and laws that help volunteer firefighters. He developed legislation providing a tax credit for firefighters and won a law providing tuition scholarships for young people who volunteer for their local fire departments. The governor just signed Seward’s legislation authorizing volunteer firefighters to secure group health insurance through municipalities.

"This is locally identified community need that will help Schoharie County meet a key need for emergency preparedness, and we can help the county reduce pressure on its budget and local taxpayers," Seward said. "I am glad the senate could assist."

The funding is from the state’s capital program for economic assistance.