07.20.16

$300k in Federal Grants to Help RI Firefighters Purchase Needed Equipment

Lincoln, RI - Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced over $300,000 in new federal funding for the Lime Rock Fire District, the Albion Fire Department, and the Rhode Island Fire Academy (RIFA) to purchase needed equipment.  The funding is made available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG).

The Lime Rock Fire District is receiving a federal share of $82,440 for 30 sets of firefighter turn out gear (firefighting suits, boots, and helmet).  The Lime Rock Fire Department is a combination department that consists of 20 full-time firefighters and 10 part-time firefighters which operates out of two fire stations, with primary responsibility for approximately 12 square miles.

The Albion Fire District will use its $121,753 federal grant to purchase 17 self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs) to replace aging equipment.  The district, composed of five full-time firefighters and 21 part-time firefighters, will use the new air packs and masks to replace aging units that are nearing their fifteen year life expectancy.  The grant requires a 10 percent local match.

Located on property near the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery on Route 2, the Rhode Island Fire Academy is run through the Office of the State Fire Marshal.  The Academy provides firefighters with basic training and specialized courses ranging from arson detection to hazardous materials to rope rescue and more.   RIFA will use the $86,597 grant to purchase a variety of new gear, such as ladders, hoses, and other safety equipment to support the practical educational component of the Academy's curriculum.  Additionally, the Academy will use a portion of the funding to purchase a SCBA FIT testing system to ensure volunteer fire departments and students are proficient in SCBA use.

“Our firefighters work hard each and every day to protect the communities they serve, and I am committed to ensuring they have the resources, equipment, and training they need,” said Senator Reed, who supported applications for this grant funding.  Senator Reed leads an annual fire grant workshop to help fire departments across the state apply for similar competitive federal assistance.  “These federal funds will help provide turn out gear and air packs that are mission critical, as well as new training equipment.”

“The first responders who put their lives on the line to keep Rhode Islanders safe deserve the tools they need to do their jobs effectively,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who wrote a letter of support for the Albion Fire District’s grant application.  “The Lime Rock and Albion Fire Districts and the Rhode Island Fire Academy will put these federal resources to good use, upgrading equipment so firefighters can safely carry out their duty to protect the people of Rhode Island.”

“Rhode Island fire departments continue to be successful in this competitive Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, and their aggressive pursuit of federal funding is paying off for Rhode Islanders,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “These AFG funds will better prepare firefighters for the challenging scenarios they face day in and day out, and in turn enhance public safety across the state.”

“It’s critical that our firefighters have the equipment and resources they need to do their jobs as safely and effectively as possible,” said Congressman Cicilline, who advocated for Lime Rock’s grant application.  “These grants will provide long-overdue upgrades to critical equipment and allow our firefighters the chance to train at a higher level.  I am proud that Lime Rock, Albion and the Rhode Island Fire Academy have been awarded this critical federal funding, and I look forward to continuing to work in Congress to support FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program and bring these essential resources back to Rhode Island.”

Last year, Congress appropriated $306 million for competitive, federal AFG grants to help fire departments and non-affiliated EMS organizations nationwide purchase equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources to better protect the public and emergency personnel.

Since 2001, Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders across the state successfully secure over $27.3 million in AFG awards to pay for equipment upgrades, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources.