Fire Departments Get $10 Million

Source: Union-News (Springfield, MA)

Author: DAN RING

BOSTON, MA – Gov. A. Paul Cellucci doled out $10 million worth of grants yesterday to every fire department in the state under a program created after six firefighters were killed in a warehouse blaze in Worcester.

The grants will be used to purchase items from a state-approved list such as high-technology cameras to spot people through thick smoke, radio equipment, systems for tracking firefighters as they move in and out of buildings, gauges to measure toxic chemicals, protective clothing, suits for cold-water rescues, and personal alarms for firefighters to activate if they get in trouble.

“These funds will allow cities and towns to fund their own priorities for equipment purchases that will make a real difference in the ability of every town to protect residents and firefighters from the danger of fire,” Cellucci said.

In Western Massachusetts, the grants range from $108,661 to Springfield to $14,844 for smaller communities.

“That will take care of a lot of equipment needs,” said Garrett S. Sullivan, spokesman for the Springfield department. “It will fill in a lot of gaps that the department hasn’t been able to meet.”

Springfield will purchase a thermal imaging camera that allows firefighters to spot people by way of their body heat; batteries and chargers for its new radio system; protective coats and trousers; six devices to measure levels of toxic gas; personal alarms that automatically send out a high-pitch signal if a firefighter gets lost or hurt; safety equipment such as ropes and axes, and suits for cold-water rescues.

The state Legislature and Cellucci approved the $10 million program last year. Some of the safety devices may have helped to save the lives of the Worcester firemen who perished on Dec. 3, 1999.

Many fire officials have been trying to buy safety equipment for their departments since the Worcester blaze.

In Worcester, two firefighters entered a burning warehouse to look for two homeless people. They became disoriented, and radioed for help.

The other four who died were members of the rescue team sent to look for them.

Agawam Deputy Fire Chief Stephen M. Martin said the community’s $30,899 grant will help the department upgrade safety gear.

“It’s going to be put to excellent use,” he said.

Westfield Fire Chief Frank J. O’Brien welcomed the program. His is among several departments that will use part of the grant for purchasing directional arrows to clamp on to hoses to lead firefighters out of dark buildings.

“It’s very, very helpful for us,” he said. “It’s a great thing for firefighter safety.”

Rep. Paul E. Caron, D-Springfield, who pushed to establish the grants, said he will work to make the program permanent. It is now only a one-time effort, he said.


Gov. A. Paul Cellucci yesterday doled out grants for fire departments to pay for new equipment. Local communities getting grants and the amounts are:

Agawam $30,899
Amherst $44,542
Ashfield $14,844
Becket $14,844
Belchertown $20,819
Bernardston $14,844
Brimfield $14,844
Cheshire $14,844
Chesterfield $14,844
Chicopee $ 66,794
Colrain $14,844
Conway $14,844
Cummington $14,844
Dalton $20,819
Deerfield $20,819
E. Longmeadow $20,819
Easthampton $30,899
Erving $14,844
Goshen $14,844
Granby $20,819
Greenfield $30,899
Hampden $14,844
Hatfield $14,844
Hawley $14,844
Heath $14,844
Hinsdale $14,844
Holland $14,844
Holyoke $44,542
Longmeadow $30,899
Ludlow $30,899
Monson $20,819
Montague $14,844
Montague and Turners Falls
Fire District $20,819
Montgomery $14,844
Northampton $30,899
Palmer, Bondsville Fire District $14,844
Palmer Fire District $20,819
Palmer, Three Rivers $14,844
Pelham $14,844
Shutesbury $14,844
South Deerfield $14,844
South Hadley Fire
Districts 1 and 2 (each) $20,819
Southampton $20,819
Springfield $108,661
Sunderland $14,844
Wales $14,844
Wendell $14,844
West Springfield $30,899
Westfield $44,542
Westhampton $14,844
Williamsburg $14,844
Worthington $14,844

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