Last month, the Town of Hempstead authorized more than $300,000 in relief grants to help local fire departments pay for coronavirus-related expenses incurred during the pandemic. The Bellmore and North Bellmore fire districts were among several companies to receive a grant, which was made possible by funding through the federal CARES Act.
The initiative recognizes the ongoing efforts of first responders on the front lines, according to a town press release. At its Dec. 8 board meeting, councilmembers approved a $17,382 grant for the Bellmore Fire District, and a $123,350 grant for the North Bellmore Fire District. The grants are intended to help the districts offset unbudgeted expenses related to pandemic response.
According to John Caluori, the superintendent of the North Bellmore Fire District, “funding was an issue from day one.” The district spent more than $120,000 on Covid-related expenses between mid-March and early September to supply volunteers with personal protective equipment and decontaminate all of its buildings and apparatus.
“We treated every call as a Covid call,” he explained.
The district also had to cut back on certain projects, such as training and equipment purchases, due to the pandemic.
“Once we were informed about the [CARES] money, we were able to purchase EMS and fire equipment that was put off in the beginning of the year, which will provide [our firefighters] with the equipment they need to do their jobs,” Caluori said.
Bellmore Fire District Supervisor John Fabian said the district spent roughly $30,000 to outfit each of its three stations and all of its volunteers with pandemic-related protective measures.
“We spent money on cleaning products, masks, respirators, thermometers, hand sanitizers and Covid kits, which we needed to get,” he said, “but it was spent out of budget.
“Knowing that the extra money that we normally wouldn't have spent we were able to recoup helps,” he continued. “I thank the town for looking out for the fire departments.”
The authorization followed a string of similar initiatives by the town to use $133 million in CARES Act funding secured by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer earlier this year. According to Hempstead Town Supervisor Donald Clavin, the money has also been used to provide:
- $5.5 million to local school districts.
- $4 million to local hospitals.
- $8 million to area colleges.
- $4 million for Covid-19 testing initiatives.
- $6 million for food pantries.
- $3.5 million for PPE distribution to benefit small business.
- More than a half million dollars to local villages.
“I would like to once again thank Sen. Schumer for his part in securing the funding for multiple initiatives like this one for first responders to remain safe and protected from Covid-19 as they continue to help our community,” Clavin said in the release. “America’s largest township will continue to do what it can to support its first responders and residents throughout this pandemic.”
“Firefighters have always served as our community’s first responders, and they continue to rise to meet the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Councilman Dennis Dunne, of the 6th District. “This grant funding is one way that we can give back to our neighborhood fire departments and help them continue the great work they do in the Town of Hempstead.”
“As a former police officer, I have seen the great personal sacrifices made by the first responder community to help keep their families, friends and neighbors safe,” said Councilman Christopher Carini, of the 5th District. “I am proud to partner with Supervisor Don Clavin and my colleagues on the Hempstead Town Board to provide federal CARES funds for local fire departments during this second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.”