The Lynn Fire Department has received two Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG) totaling more than $625,000 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.
The first grant, $295,388, will be used for a community fire-education program that will start in September. Money from the grant will be used to purchase smoke detectors, which will be installed by the fire department in eligible residences throughout the city.
“We want all our residents to learn to be safe from fire,” said Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy. “Together, we can protect our families, neighbors and firefighters.”
Lynn Fire Chief James McDonald said the upcoming fire-safety campaign builds on the successful school-based Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) program and will include a multi-lingual media campaign using billboards, TV, radio and the Internet. The main component of the program will be the installation of the smoke detectors and education for those families receiving them.
“A working smoke detector can double your chances of surviving a fire,” said Lt. Israel Gonzalez of the Lynn Fire Dept. fire prevention division. “When combined with a practiced home-escape plan, people will greatly increase their chances of surviving.”
Gonzalez said the fire-education program will focus on smoke detectors, home-escape plans, cooking safety, smoking, electrical hazards, heating, dryers and candles.
The fire department will collaborate with other groups making home visits, including home health aides, visiting nurses, building inspectors and spiritual advisors. If a home is identified as needing a smoke detector or education to eliminate fire hazards, the fire department will be contacted and it will request to come into the home to take the necessary action.
For more information on the program or to request a smoke detector, call 781-596-0213 or e-mail [email protected].
The second grant, worth $330,000, will be used to purchase new breathing apparatus, facemasks, and a new breathing air fill station.
The new equipment is the latest in firefighter technology. The new breathing apparatus weigh less and hold more air than the existing ones. The new facemasks allow firefighters to see how much air is in the tank without their having to check a gauge. The facemask displays a digital reading of the remaining air with firefighters needing only to look straight ahead to see it. The new facemasks feature the Personal Assist Safety System (PASS), which will set off an alarm if a firefighter goes immobile. It can also be manually set off, in case a fire fighter is trapped.
McDonald is grateful for the grants. “The money will help us buy new equipment to keep up with changing technology,” he said. “The new equipment will help keep firefighters safe. When you are in a fire you don’t have a lot of time, and in our business, time is safety.”
McDonald said the mayor has consistently supported the department’s seeking the grants and has been willing to expend the resources necessary to obtain them. He also credited former fire chief Dennis Carmody with getting the department involved with the grant programs.
In the 13 years that FEMA – through the U.S. Fire Administration – has awarded these grants, the Lynn Fire Department has received more than $1.5 million in grants. The money is awarded to fire departments around the country to meet emergency response needs. Since 2001, the AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.