Several months ago Interim Fire Chief Gary Daughtery began collaborating with Ashland Fire Captain Matt Bowland and Southborough Firefighter Justin McCallum on a grant application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). On Tuesday they were rewarded for their efforts, with FEMA announcing that the three towns would share $921,943 to purchase new equipment through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program. When combined with matching town funds, the departments will share a total of $1,014,138.
The funding comes at a critical time, and will allow the Hopkinton Fire Department to replace 30 self-contained breathing apparatus, provide 60 spare air cylinders, and three Rapid Intervention Packs (RIP). The air cylinders the department uses today are 15 years old and at the end of their useful life. RIPs are an important life-saving device for firefighters who are trapped in a building and need quick access to oxygen.
The department had planned to make a $380,000 capital request next year to replace the equipment, but because of the grant this will no longer be required.
“We are thrilled to receive this grant,” said Daughtery. “Not only will this provide the department with a much-needed equipment upgrade and improve firefighter safety, it also saves the town money.”
The upgraded safety features in the new equipment are a bonus for all three departments. Today, each town uses different sizes and brands of air cylinders, so they are unable to share equipment on a mutual aid call. With the grant money the towns will be purchasing the same equipment so that brands, cylinder size and training opportunities will be standardized.
“We chose to make this a regional effort because we thought it may increase our odds of winning,” said Daughtery. “We are grateful to FEMA for helping us purchase the equipment we need to protect the public and our emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.”