September 7, 2016

RI Congressional Delegation Announces $160K for Fire Departments in East Greenwich & Portsmouth

EAST GREENWICH, RI – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced over $160,000 in federal funding to help fire departments in East Greenwich and Portsmouth purchase needed safety equipment and enhance training programs.  The funding is made available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG).

The East Greenwich Fire Department will use $88,191 in federal funds to purchase a rapid escape system for each member of the department, which will enable them to safely descend from burning buildings and help rescue residents trapped inside. The new escape systems will bring the department into compliance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) standards for self-securing a firefighter in elevated operations by allowing the firefighters to properly secure themselves to a ladder or elevated platform when performing fire-related activities.  The East Greenwich Fire Department will use the funds to purchase 44 rapid escape systems for firefighters and 36 pairs of turnout pants fitted with the appropriate gear to support the escape systems.

The Portsmouth Fire Department will use a $71,896 federal grant to develop a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) training program.  A Rapid Intervention Team is a group of firefighters dedicated solely to search and rescue of seriously injured or distressed firefighters.  RIT programs became a common practice in many urban fire departments in the 1990s and were adopted by multiple suburban and rural fire departments after six firefighters died in the Worcester Cold Storage Fire of 1999.  The leadership of the Portsmouth Fire Department requested the funds with the intent to re-energize RIT training and preparation and will make attendance compulsory for firefighters.

“I am thankful for the outstanding work our firefighters do each day.  These funds will enhance public safety and ensure our firefighters have the most up-to-date equipment and rescue training available,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, who helped make $306 million available for the AFG program in the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, (Pub. L. 113-76) and annually hosts fire grant workshops to help fire departments apply for these grants.  “It has been a pleasure to work with these fire departments and communities to help secure these competitive grants.”

“Our firefighters work hard to keep Rhode Island communities safe,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Given tight local budgets, it’s important for the federal government to pitch in and help Rhode Island cities and towns afford the training and equipment firefighters need to do their job.  I’m glad to see these grants headed to Portsmouth and East Greenwich.”

“I am always thrilled to see federal funds used to enhance public safety and protect the well-being of Rhode Islanders. It is especially exciting in this case to see the implementation of equipment and training that can make the difference between life and death for the firefighters who put their lives on the line for us every day,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.

“Our firefighters have incredibly difficult jobs, and it is our duty to ensure they have the resources and training to return home to their families,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “This funding will allow the Portsmouth Fire Department to develop a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) training program, providing clear procedures and critical training to save the life of a firefighter who is injured or in severe distress. Assistance to Firefighter Grants provide the support our Fire Departments need to be able to keep our communities safe, and I look forward to continuing to advocate for this critical program.”

“In today’s tight fiscal environment this grant comes at a great time. This award will provide the firefighters of the East Greenwich Fire Department with a much needed piece of life safety equipment.  I personally would like to thank our Senators and Congressman for their efforts and support towards this project,” said Russell G. McGillivray Jr., Chief of the East Greenwich Fire Department.

Portsmouth Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael P. O’Brien stated: “The training program created with this funding will allow our firefighters to operate with increased safety; they will be less likely to be injured or killed at a fire.  Overall, the department will be better prepared to protect each other and protect our citizens.  We are grateful for the advocacy of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation; their support has been instrumental in our success.” 

With these two grants, Rhode Island has now received over $2.5 million in AFG funding this year to help 13 fire departments throughout the state.  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.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921