July 31, 2017

RI Delegation Announces $2 Million to Hire More Firefighters in North Kingstown & Barrington

North Kingstown Fire Department nets $1.5 million and Barrington receives $532,000

NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI – In an effort to enhance public safety, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today announced over $2 million in federal funding to help North Kingstown and Barrington hire and train new firefighters.  This direct federal assistance, provided through the competitive Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, will help both communities pay for two years of salaries and benefits for a total of thirteen new firefighters.

The North Kingstown Fire Department (NKFD) will use the $1,540,258 federal SAFER grant to hire nine full-time firefighter positions to staff the department’s ladder truck 24 hours per day, seven days per week.  NKFD provides fire protection and emergency services to approximately 26,000 residents of the Town of North Kingstown, Rhode Island. NKFD also provides those same services to critical infrastructure in a 3,300 acre industrial park, Quonset Business Park (Quonset).  Quonset is one of the largest industrial and commerce complexes in Rhode Island. It is home to almost 200 companies, employing more than 10,000 people in full-and part-time jobs across a variety of industries. It includes one of North America’ s top-ten auto ports, Rhode Island’s Air National Guard, Electric Boat’s Quonset Point Facility, and a NOAA research vessel, and it features 14 miles of freight rail with a direct connection to the adjacent Northeast Corridor.

The Barrington Fire Department (BFD) will receive $532,542 to help cover the salaries and benefits for four additional firefighters for the first two years of their employment, and 35 percent of the salaries and benefits in the third year.  The Barrington Fire Department is a full-time department consisting of twenty firefighters and four Captains working under the direction of Fire Chief Gerald Bessette.  The BFD is responsible for the protection of 17,000 residents and 15.425 square miles of land and water.

“Our firefighters do an outstanding job and I am pleased to help deliver federal funding to help these fire departments add to their ranks.  It is crucial for our fire departments to attain and maintain 24-hour protection of the public.  This federal funding will help fund a total of thirteen additional firefighter positions, increasing staffing levels and ensuing we have experienced firefighters on hand to respond to emergencies,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, who helped make $345 million available for Fire Grants and SAFER hiring grants in the latest Omnibus Appropriations law.

“This federal funding will allow the North Kingstown and Barrington Fire Departments to expand their ranks to meet growing demand for the Department’s services,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Congratulations to Town Manager Cunha and Chief Bessette on winning this competitive award, which will help our brave first responders keep the residents of North Kingstown and Barrington safe.”

“I am thrilled to announce this $2 million grant award that will be used to hire 13 additional firefighters, increasing fire safety for local residents and workers,” said Congressman Langevin, a senior member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, which oversees the SAFER program. “More than 40,000 people reside in North Kingstown and Barrington combined, and this funding will help ensure that there are enough trained and experienced firefighters available in case of emergencies.”    

“Ensuring that our Fire Departments are fully-staffed is critical for the safety and well-being of Rhode Islanders,” said Congressman Cicilline, who advocated directly to FEMA on behalf of the Barrington grant application. “I look forward to welcoming these new firefighters to our state’s incredible team of first responders, and I am committed to continuing to work with our Chiefs and their Departments to meet the needs of their communities.”

“This grant will allow the North Kingstown Fire Department to staff our ladder truck. With the continued growth of North Kingstown, particularly in the Quonset Point Industrial Park and Reynolds Farm areas, this award will significantly increase the Fire Department’s ability to protect the entire town,” said NKFD Chief Scott Kettelle.  “I wish to extend our thanks to our Congressional Delegation for their support in this endeavor.  I would also like to thank the North Kingstown Town Council for allowing the Fire Department to apply for this grant and for their commitment to public safety.”

“The Town of Barrington is grateful to the Rhode Island Congressional delegation for their support of a FEMA Safer Grant that supports additional staffing for adequate fire and emergency response. Specifically, the grant will provide $523,542 over the next three years to support the salaries and benefits for four additional firefighters.  This additional manpower will allow for enhanced emergency fire and medical support for our citizens and increase the safety of our firefighters,” said Barrington Town Manager Jim Cunha.

“This award will provide the firefighters of Barrington with staffing levels that are required and nationally recognized to carry out the many dangerous tasks that are necessary when performing their expected duties on the fireground. The citizens of Barrington are then provided with a safer more efficient fire service,” said BFD Chief Bessette.

With these competitive federal grants, Rhode Island has now received over $4.5 million in federal fire grant safety funding this year to help eleven fire departments throughout the state.  Since 2005, Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders have won over $32 million in federal SAFER awards.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921