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Lockport gains federal funds for firefighter gear

LOCKPORT – Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey told the Common Council Wednesday that the city has been approved for a $128,000 federal grant to pay for new air packs for about half the Fire Department.

The grant will pay for new self-contained breathing apparatus, or SCBA, which allows firefighters to breathe clean air in a burning building.

“Their previous SCBA equipment was expiring,” McCaffrey said.

Alderman Patrick W. Schrader, a member of the Fire Board, said the grant application would cover new air units for two of the department’s four platoons, or 16 men.

McCaffrey said she got the word Wednesday from Rep. Chris Collins’ office about the Assistance to Firefighters grant through the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She praised Municipal Training Officer Luca C.P. Quagliano for preparing the grant application.

On another topic at Wednesday’s meeting, Streets Superintendent Michael E. Hoffman said he hopes to have crews start hot-patching potholes next week, weather permitting. He said he intends to start work around Ida Fritz Park at Park and West avenues because the Monday night car cruises there are scheduled to start in early May. After that, Main Street comes next before the workers fan out around the city.

Cold patching has been done in recent days, but it costs $110 a ton and doesn’t last, Hoffman said. It was used in holes where there was “a possibility of causing damage to a vehicle. It doesn’t mean you’re going to get a nice, smooth ride.”

Hot patch costs $55 to $60 a ton, Hoffman said, and it works better in warmer weather.

“It looks like they’re skipping a lot,” Council President Joseph C. Kibler said of the streets crews.

“Be patient. They’re going to make two or three trips,” Hoffman said.

Also Wednesday, the Council went behind closed doors to interview Michael S. Hartman, assessor for the towns of Royalton and Hartland, who has asked to become the acting city assessor at a price of $10,000 for 15 weeks. Hartman left City Hall without stopping to answer questions from news reporters.

McCaffrey said the Council will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. next Wednesday to vote on the appointment.

The Council also seemed willing to allow the Taste of Lockport to close Main Street July 5 as organizers attempt to break a Guinness World Record for the most people singing on a live radio broadcast, although a vote on the closure won’t be taken until May 6.

Jennifer Serrano, who is operating the event, said 6,690 people are needed to sing the Erie Canal song “Low Bridge, Everybody Down” for at least 2½ minutes. “This may be the longest version of ‘Low Bridge’ you’ve ever heard,” Serrano said.