U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), following their urging, had approved additional federal funds to rebuild the Niagara Engine Company No. 6 Fire House. The fire house was previously located in a high hazard floodplain in Schoharie County, where it was severely damaged during Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The fire house, built in the 1950s, was flooded with approximately eight feet of water, and FEMA deemed the facility damaged beyond repair, and eligible for relocation. Schumer and Gillibrand explained that the company is currently operating out of a temporary facility and has received approximately $337,000 in federal funds for initial costs, including purchasing the land for the new facility and architectural and engineering work. Schumer and Gillibrand said the new facility will be located outside the floodplain and has already undergone significant environmental analysis from FEMA. Schumer and Gillibrand announced today that FEMA has approved the additional funding, a total of $6,406,406 in eligible costs with a 75% federal cost share, that Niagara Engine Company No. 6 needs to rebuild their facility outside of the floodplain. That funding is in addition to the $337,000 that the fire department has already received for initial work. Schumer’s office has worked with Niagara Engine Company 6 on this project from the very beginning, most recently urging FEMA to approve the additional funding that the fire department needed for their new facility to abide by all codes and standards.
“The brave men and women of Niagara Engine Company No. 6 voluntarily put their lives on the line to protect Schoharie County residents from dangerous fires. And for far too long, they were working out of a temporary facility because FEMA put up bureaucratic red tape that prevented them from building a new fire house,” said Senator Schumer. “But today, I am pleased to announce that FEMA has heeded our call and approved these critical federal funds that will build a new facility outside the floodplain. Now, these funds will ensure the Niagara Engine Company No. 6 will no longer have to worry about floods and storms posing a danger to their building and instead focus on protecting residents. This is a critical investment that will keep Schoharie County safe and make sure our firefighters have the resources they need to do their jobs properly and save lives.”
“This FEMA funding will help advance the critical construction project to replace the original Niagara Engine Company fire station damaged during Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Fire stations serve as the nerve center for our first responders to answer emergencies and now Niagara Engine Company No. 6 will be able to consolidate all of its resources and firefighters into one new operational facility to help effectively serve the residents of Schoharie County.”
“Schoharie County and Niagara Engine Company No. 6 are very grateful for Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand’s strong and long-standing support for the relocation of our destroyed fire house,” said John Wolfe, Chairman of the Schoharie Fire Department Building Committee. “This project is extremely important to the protection and welfare of the citizens of Schoharie County, and I am excited that we will finally be able to move forward with building the new facility. Moving the fire house out of the flood plain will help ensure that Niagara Engine Company 6 will continue to provide the highest level of emergency services that the Town and Village of Schoharie have come to expect.”
Schumer and Gillibrand said the original Niagara Engine Company 6 Fire House suffered significant damage from Hurricane Irene and the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee. The storm left the fire house inoperable, forcing the firefighters to relocate to a temporary facility. However, the temporary facility – in which they currently operate – does not sufficiently provide the resources that the new facility would offer. Schumer and Gillibrand said that paying for a new facility now that is outside the floodplain would save millions because it would not be damaged by future flooding and therefore not require structural repairs.
Following the significant damage to Niagara Engine Company No. 6 Fire House’s facility, FEMA determined that a new facility was needed and would be eligible for federal funding. FEMA obligated approximately $337,000 in funding for architecture and engineering work for the new facility, as well as covering the cost to purchase new land for the facility. FEMA analyzed the environmental impacts of building the new facility and issued a Finding of No Significant Impact. This cleared the pathway for the construction of a new facility, and now Niagara Engine Company 6 will receive the funding they need to rebuild.
Schumer and Gillibrand have previously played an integral role in relocating public safety buildings in Schoharie County. Earlier this year they secured $37 million to build a new Schoharie County Public Safety Facility after the previous facility was damaged during Tropical Storm Irene. That project ensured county public safety officials would no longer have to worry about natural disasters posing imminent danger to their buildings.