By GABRIELLE FALLETTA
EAST GREENWICH- The local fire department is the recipient of $88,191 in grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, money that will allow the department to purchase new safety equipment.
The grant is a portion of $160,000 in federal funding that is being dispersed to both the East Greenwich Fire Department and Portsmouth Fire Department as part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. In East Greenwich, the fire department will use the funds to purchase a rapid escape system for each member of the department.
“In today’s tight fiscal environment this grant comes at a great time,” said East Greenwich Fire Chief Russell McGillvary in a statement. “This award will provide the firefighters of the East Greenwich Fire Department with a much needed piece of life safety equipment.”
The rapid escape systems will allow firefighters to safely descend from burning buildings and help rescue residents inside, by giving firefighters a tool that can anchor to another structure and allow them to escape from a high point on a building. In addition, the EG Fire Department will purchase several pairs of turnout pants that will be fitted with the appropriate gear to support the escape systems.
“Our firefighters work hard to keep Rhode Island communities safe,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in a statement. “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.”
In Portsmouth the fire department will use their $71,896 grant to create a Rapid Intervention Team training program, a team that is dedicated solely to search and rescue of seriously injured 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 Jack Reed in a statement. “It has been a pleasure to work with these fire departments and communities to help secure these competitive grants.”
The two grants add to the total of over $2.5 million in AFG funding in 2016 to help 13 fire departments throughout Rhode Island. Since 2001, Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders across the state successfully secure over $27.3 million in AFG grants to pay for equipment upgrades, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources.
“I am always thrilled to see federal funds used to enhance public safety and protect the well-being of Rhode Islanders,”said Congressman Jim Langevin in a statement. “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.”