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Caz: Not only about running into buildings

The primary goal of the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grants is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical services organizations. Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards. The Grant Programs Directorate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency administers the grants in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration. For fiscal year 2005, Congress re-authorized the Assistance to Firefighters Grants for an additional five years through 2010.

"The Federal government saw the need across the country to help fire departments out that couldn't fund national mandates themselves. They started the AFGs to ease the burden on municipalities," Hodges said. "This year we applied for in-house fitness equipment."

The annual deadlines for grant applications are in April. Though there have been offers in the community for fitness access, Hodges said they didn't mesh with firefighters' schedules.

"We don't have any special ties with Washington," Hodges said. "We fit the criteria that they've established as most important."

In his blood

Prior to joining Cazenovia, Hodges was also an active member with the Erieville Fire Department. He has climbed the ranks over the past 10 years and is currently the 2nd Assistant Chief for the department.

"I grew up with it," Hodges said. "It wasn't an issue of if, but an issue of when. My father just retired from the Sherburne Fire Department at 70. My brother's still active."

Hodges, originally from Sherburne, moved to Erieville in 1996 and then to Cazenovia in 1998. He lives with his wife Kim and their son Brice and works as a mechanical designer at Stearns and Wheler, whom he credits for allowing him to be an on-the-job responder.

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