HARWICH — The fire department has received a $70,866 Assistance to Firefighters grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to replace aging nozzles, add additional capabilities and provide training.
“It's a huge bonus for us,” Fire Chief Norman Clarke, Jr. said on Monday of the grant that will cover the cost of replacing values and nozzles on firefighting equipment.
The grant is critical because it “allows the department to purchase essential equipment and provide much needed training to our firefighters,” Clarke said. “As tax dollars get stretched further, it becomes more difficult for departments to find this funding.”
Some of the values and nozzles on the hoses and hydrants are 25 to 30 years old and badly in need of replacement, the fire chief said. The department had a hose replacement program in place for three to four years and the hoses are in good shape.
The grant announcement came from Congressman Bill Keating, D-Ninth District, a member of the Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs Committee. There were $644,144 in awards in the district, including a $190,023 grant for ambulance stretcher loading systems for the town of Brewster.
“Congressman Keating's office provided the department with valuable information and support that was instrumental with the department obtaining the grant,” Clarke said.
“I am grateful that fire departments in our district are getting over $600,000,” Keating said. “These grants will help our first responders communicate, coordinate and confront the emergencies that unfortunately face our communities every day. I congratulate all the departments on these grants and their continued good work.”
Deputy Fire Chief David LeBlanc wrote the grant seeking funding for water appliance valves and nozzles and connections to the hydrants. Along with some of the nozzles being 30 years old and in need of replacement, he said the valves on the hydrants are 10 to 15 years old.
The ladder pipe component that clamps on top of the raised ladder on the truck was purchased in 1974 and will be replaced with the grant funds. Thanks to the grant all the nozzles will be the same; some were different because they were replaced over time, LeBlanc said. There are two sizes of hoses, one-and-three-quarter inch and two-and-a-half inch, but the nozzles will now be the same.
LeBlanc said the grant also allows the department to purchase a portable blitz gun, a two-and-a-half-inch high-pressure nozzle that can spray 500 gallons of water per minute. The more gallons per minute the faster a fire is knocked down, he said. This equipment will provide great access to areas inaccessible to a fire truck and deck gun, he said.
“This is definitely good news,” LeBlanc said of the grant. He said the grant also contains $15,000 for training in the use of the new equipment for firefighters in the department and at the fire academy.
LeBlanc said the department has been fortunate over the years in receiving grants through the program, but this is the first since 2012. He also said there is a 5 percent department match as part of the grant and town meeting has approved those funds.
The primary goal of the grant is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters with respect to fire-related hazards by providing direct financial assistance to eligible fire departments, non-affiliated emergency medical services organization and state fire training academies, according to FEMA. The funding is for critically needed resources to equip and train emergency personnel to recognized standards, enhance operations efficiencies, foster interoperability and support community resilience.