Williamsburg receives $45K grant for fire equipment upgrades

  • Williamsburg Deputy Fire Chief Daryl Springman, Fire Chief Jason Connell, Congressman Richard Neal, Select Board members William Sayre and Dave Mathers, and Town Administrator Charlene Nardi gather at the Williamsburg Fire Station Thursday morning in recognition of the Fire Department receiving a $45,623 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant. FRAN RYAN

  • Williamsburg Deputy Fire Chief Daryl Springman at the station Thursday. FRAN RYAN PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 8/10/2018 4:19:42 PM

WILLIAMSBURG — Firefighters in Williamsburg will now be equipped with state-of-the-art personal air packs, or self contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs), complete with masks that are designed to fit each individual, thanks to a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant awarded to the Fire Department.

The department received the award of $45,623 on Aug. 3, and will enable the department to purchase six new SCBAs at a cost of $6,000 to $7,000 each.

Fire Chief Jason Connell said that the department has been upgrading its air packs for several years.

“This now completes the project, and without any impact on the taxpayers in town,” he said.

According to Connell, the grant award covers 95 percent of the total estimated cost of $47,904 for the air packs and masks. The Williamsburg Firefighters Association is covering the remaining $2,280.

Connell said that the Firefighters Association also hired a professional grant writer to review their grant before it was submitted.

“Our association has put a lot behind getting this grant,” he said. “It would not have been successful without the help of the congressman and the senators who set in letters of support for this.”

U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, state Sen. Adam Hines and the Williamsburg Select Board all supported the grant.

Congressman Richard Neal was at the Fire Department on Thursday morning to offer his congratulations to the department and emphasized the importance of both the FEMA grant program and firefighters having the latest lifesaving equipment.

“I have been an early on supporter of the FEMA grant process,” Neal said.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant program is administered by the Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.

Neal also recalled the fire in the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse of 1999 where six firefighters were killed battling the blaze. He said that the funerals of the fallen firefighters have been forever seared into his mind.

“They were trapped in that building and they ran out of oxygen,” Neal said. “The advances in science and technology have made these air packs much more sophisticated with 30 percent more oxygen.”

Deputy Fire Chief Daryl Springman said that the new packs will be a “real step up” in the department’s equipment, noting that they are smaller and lighter than the ones being replaced.

“They have higher pressure, which makes them easier to use, and there are a lot of safety features,” he said.

Select Board members William Sayre and Dave Mathers also attended the event as did Town Administrator Charlene Nardi.

“This is very exciting because these will make a very big difference,” Nardi said. “We are very appreciative of this grant and we are very appreciative of our firefighters.”

Sayre told those gathered that the town was already at its maximum tax rate, “so we appreciate any help we can get.”

The Williamsburg Fire Department currently has 33 volunteer firefighters.

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