SMITHFIELD, RI – In an effort to help local fire departments enhance response capabilities and keep their communities safe, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today announced a total of $382,728 federal funding to help the Smithfield and Johnston fire departments upgrade essential equipment.
The federal funds are being awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program. AFG grants are designed to supply critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources necessary to protect local communities. Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation helped include a total of $350 million for AFG firefighter equipment grants in the 2018 Omnibus Appropriations law.
The Smithfield Fire Department will use its $202,728 AFG grant to purchase replacements for its outdated Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) units. The old units are no longer compliant with National Fire Protection Association standards, and the replacement units will ensure efficient emergency response by providing breathable air to firefighters during rescue operations and other situations involving toxic and dangerous air conditions.
The Johnston Fire Department will use its $180,000 AFG grant to purchase of a complete set of structural personal protective equipment (PPE) for members that currently have non-compliant PPE. The new PPE will replace dated, ten-year-old equipment, and each set will include a coat, pants, helmet, suspenders, two hoods, two pairs of gloves and a pair of boots.
“I’m glad to see another round of AFG funding going toward our fire departments to help them do their jobs in the most efficient and up-to-date manner possible,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee that oversees FEMA funding. “I am grateful to our firefighters for the life-saving work they do and I will continue working hard at the federal level to support them and help them get the job done safely and effectively.”
“It is crucial that our firefighters have the right equipment to safely and effectively respond to emergency situations. I’m glad to see these federal funds go towards helping Rhode Island’s first responders do their job. Investing in our fire departments remains an utmost priority,” said Senator Whitehouse.
“Our firefighters need modern equipment to carry out their duties safely and effectively,” said Congressman Langevin, a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security, which oversees the AFG program. “I commend the Johnston and Smithfield departments for winning these awards, and I will keep working to ensure all of our firefighters have the tools and resources they need to keep our communities safe.”
“I’m proud to have advocated directly to FEMA to help secure funding for our firefighters,” said Congressman Cicilline. “The brave men and women in our fire departments deserve access to the best equipment available to help keep them and our communities safe.”
“Once again, the Smithfield Fire Department is grateful to the RI Congressional delegation for their efforts to secure funds under the Homeland Security AFG Grant Program,” said Smithfield Fire Chief Robert Seltzer. “This grant will allow the fire department to replace and update all of our self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which is critical to firefighting, as these units provide our firefighters with their air supply while fighting smoky and deadly gas fires. It is our honor to receive this grant from the Department of Homeland Security, and we appreciate the hard work of our Congressional delegation in Washington for fighting to get the funds needed to protect our firefighters.”
“It’s very important that our firefighters be well equipped when saving lives,” said Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena. “I want to thank our congressional delegation for continuing to support the citizens of Johnston.”
Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders across the state have successfully secured over $39 million in AFG awards since 2001 to pay for equipment upgrades, protective gear, emergency vehicles, and training.