WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today announced a total of $309,125 in two Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) investments for the towns of Bristol and Newport that will help their fire departments expand and enhance their emergency response capabilities in Narragansett Bay. Administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), PSPG grants are designed to help protect critical port infrastructure, enhance maritime safety improve port-wide maritime security risk management, and maintain or reestablish maritime security mitigation protocols that support port recovery and resiliency capabilities.
The Bristol Fire Department will receive $284,625 to purchase a new firefighting/CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives) emergency response and recovery vessel in order to increase port safety and security in the upper and eastern areas of Narragansett Bay. The department is the local emergency response agency with the responsibility of prevention, response, and recovery from maritime emergencies, including CBRNE events, which occur adjacent to and on the waters of the approaches to the Port of Providence, Narragansett Bay, the Taunton River, and Fall River, Massachusetts. The new vessel will allow the department to provide emergency response in the Mount Hope Bay area and the Sakonnet River. It will complement a police vessel that was acquired under a federal grant and deployed earlier this summer.
The Newport Fire Department will receive $24,500 for equipment, supplies, and training for Marine 6, the new catamaran fire boat the department acquired last April with the help of an earlier port security grant.
“This is a smart investment in boosting marine emergency response capabilities, protecting our coastal communities, and helping emergency personnel save lives and property. This new vessel will be both a local and regional asset and the new equipment and training will help firefighters respond to a variety of marine incidents,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee. “I’m pleased these federal dollars are coming to Rhode Island to ensure local emergency personnel have the training and equipment they need.”
“Rhode Island fire departments’ life-saving work doesn’t stop at our shoreline. They need the right vessels and equipment to do their job wherever an emergency strikes,” said Senator Whitehouse. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in the delegation to fight for this important funding for Rhode Island first responders.”
“A well protected Narragansett Bay improves the safety and security of the ports and maritime traffic that Rhode Island communities rely on,” said Congressman Langevin, a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security, which oversees the Port Security Grant Program. “Congratulations to the Bristol and Newport Fire Departments for securing this important funding.”
“This critical funding will enhance safety and preparedness for communities along Narragansett Bay,” said Congresman Cicilline. “I’m proud have advocated directly to FEMA to help secure funding for the Bristol Fire Department to purchase a new emergency response vehicle. I will continue to work hard to be sure Rhode Island gets its fair share of federal resources.”
Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation helped include $100 million for Port Security grants in the 2018 Omnibus Appropriations law.
“The Bristol Fire Department is excited and thankful for this Port Security grant award,” said Chief Michael A. DeMello of the Bristol Fire Department. “Funding provided through this grant will provide marine fire & rescue capabilities not previously available in the East Bay, as well as an additional asset for all of Rhode Island and southeastern New England. Many thanks to Town Administrator Contente, Senator Reed, and our entire federal delegation whose support and tireless efforts made this grant award possible.”
“The Port Security Grant will help us complete the outfitting of our new Fire Rescue Boat,” said Chief Brian Dugan of the Newport Fire Department. “The grant will not only provide Medical Supplies and firefighting equipment, but will also supply our operators with foul weather gear and other safety equipment. In addition, the department will be able to purchase specialty equipment and supplies, such as oil boom and tackle, in order to address potential oil spills in the harbor and bay.”
Since 2014, fire departments and other entities in Rhode Island have received nearly $1.75 million in PSGP grants.