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Casino gambles on $42,000 donation to Hogansburg-Akwesasne firefighters

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AKWESASNE - The Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort recently presented a $42,000 donation to the Hogansburg-Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department to help purchase 40 new self-contained breathing apparatus devices.

The air-packs will provide breathable air to firefighters entering burning structures. Many of the HAVFD’s current SCBAs are over 15 years old and coming to the end of their usable life.

Originally the department asked the tribal council to help them purchase six new SCBAs at a cost of $42,000, but fire department officials said they had a last minute opportunity to purchase 40 new SCBAs under a five-year year lease to own program. It was “a deal we could not pass up,” HAVPD Chief Derek Comins said.

The donation will now be used toward the first year’s payment, and the HAVFD will fund the remaining years through fundraising and their operations and maintenance budget.

In addition, volunteer firefighters have been told their new 100-foot ladder truck purchased in December should be arriving around Halloween. The funds will come from a loan and grant by the USDA, and the annual payments will be paid by the casino through the HAVFD.

Efforts to purchase a new ladder truck for the HAVFD have been underway since 2011, when construction began for the gaming and hotel expansion of the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort. The truck is considered essential to comprehensive protection of the area, as the HAVFD’s current truck, at 75 feet, can only reach five floors of the hotel. A 100-foot aerial ladder is needed to access the roof and upper floors of the hotel.

Also, the old ladder truck is a 1983 model that served in New York City for 15 years prior to joining HAVFD’s fleet. It currently requires major repairs that total much more than the truck’s value.

The HAVPD solicited bids back in 2011 and presented them to the tribal council for approval. The council and casino have now committed to purchase a ladder truck priced at $852,000. The truck will be paid for in installments over a 20-year period.

“The Hogansburg-Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department thanks the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council for committing the funds to purchase the firefighting equipment that will serve the entire community of Akwesasne as well as our surrounding communities with our mutual aid commitments,” Mr. Comins said. “This has been an amazing time for the HAVFD with over $1.8 million in new equipment purchased since 2012. We are definitely lucky to have great working relationships with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, Akwesasne Convienience Store Association and the entire Akwesasne community,” he added.

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