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U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) announced on Thursday that fire departments across Massachusetts will be receiving over $5 million in Assistance to Firefighters Grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for updates to equipment, buildings, and education for firefighters in the North Shore and Merrimack Valley regions. Nearly $1 million of the grant money will go to Lynn, Nahant, Salem, and Swampscott’s fire departments.
“These FEMA grants bring us steps closer to helping our fire departments and first responders get the proper gear, equipment, training, and personnel they need to safely and effectively protect and serve our communities,” said Moulton. “I am proud to have played a role in securing this funding, and I look forward to continuing my efforts to advocate for local departments in the Sixth District..”
According to the announcement, the Lynn Fire Department received two grants. Fire Department Chief Stephen Archer said that the department will use a $293,600 vehicle acquisition grant to purchase a new ambulance for paramedic firefighters.
“That is going to help us to provide high-quality emergency medical services that we are providing to the city,” said Archer.
The department currently uses two ambulances interchangeably and one of them needs to be replaced, Archer said.
The other grant of $133,565 was awarded for operations and safety and will be used for personal escape devices that help save firefighters’ lives in the line of duty.
“Having safe and reliable equipment is tremendously important to us in what is sometimes a very dangerous business,” said Archer.
These grants are the most recent out of more than $5 million grants awarded to the Lynn Fire Department since 2018. Archer attributed this achievement to the department’s in-house grant team led by Capt. Ed Miles. Network system administrator Kerri Stone and the rest of the team have contributed countless hours of work in preparing and submitting grant applications, Archer said.
He also thanked Mayor Thomas M. McGee and the state legislative delegation for their support in securing the funding.
Miles said that the Lynn Fire Department has been lucky enough to not have deaths in the line of duty for over 25 years. However, the city has 23 high-rise buildings that are much higher than the department’s ladders. The department’s new bailout devices, which are a form of rock-climbing safety equipment, would allow firefighters to escape through a window in case they are trapped above the fire and would allow them to reach another window below.
“This way we would have a way to get down to safety,” said Miles. The grant will also pay for training the firefighters to use this equipment.
Meanwhile in Swampscott, Fire Chief Graham Archer says the grant will primarily go to fixing the first-floor sprinkler system in the firehouse, which has not been updated since the 1960s.
“Ironically, the firehouse is lagging way behind in having the same safety measures (firefighters) insist on,” Archer said.
Currently, if there were to be a fire on the first level of the firehouse, firefighters would have to run down the stairs that lead into the first level to evacuate the building, since the kitchens and offices are all located on the upper floors.
“It’s absolutely important,” said Graham Archer. “It’s essential to firefighter safety.”
The Swampscott Fire Department received $332,990 from FEMA. Graham Archer said that the sprinkler system will cost approximately $100,000 to fix. The remaining money will go to emergency driving training from the National Fire Protection Association.
“We do have outstanding drivers,” Archer said. “But this will make us better.”
The Nahant Fire Department received a FEMA of $47,619. The grant will go to numerous different elements throughout the department, including vehicle extrication equipment, according to Fire Chief Austin Antrim.
Vehicle extrication equipment is used to help officers remove people from vehicles in dangerous circumstances, such as the “jaws of life”. The new equipment will replace old versions that have been used for over 20 years, according to Antrim.
“We are very grateful for this grant award,” the fire chief said.
Salem also received a grant for $149,163 for operations and safety. The Salem Fire Department was not available to comment on the grant at the time of publication of this article.