The Amherst Fire Department was awarded two grants this week. The first was for $25,000 for a personnel safety accountability system during emergency incidents. The second was for $15,000 for communications systems for front-line fire apparatus.
The $25,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Firefighter Safety Equipment Grant Program will allow the Fire Department to acquire a personnel safety accountability system. This system enables an incident commander to account for personnel at a scene. This is particularly important at dynamic incidents such as fires, wide area searches, or multi-casualty events. The system will enhance the ability to communicate with the personnel on scene. Most importantly it will increase the firefighter’s level of safety by allowing an incident commander to maintain situational awareness during risky operations.
The Firefighter Safety Equipment Grant Program was a competitive program open to all cities and towns in Massachusetts. This program enables fire departments to purchase a variety of equipment that will make firefighters’ jobs safer. This is the second year that funding has been awarded for this purpose as part of a $25 million bond bill filed by the Baker-Polito Administration to support firefighter safety and health in the coming years.
The $15,000 grant is from the Commonwealth’s Emergency Management Performance Grant program. This funding will be used to acquire an intercom system for the frontline fire apparatus. The system incorporates noise attenuating headphone/microphones sets, which will decrease extraneous noise and improve the quality of communication between personnel in the apparatus. Chronic exposure to engine and exhaust noise has long been the source of early degradation of hearing in firefighters. The new equipment will raise the level of hearing protection exponentially.
Town Manager Paul Bockelman said, “I commend Chief Nelson and his team for securing these important funds that will enhance the safety equipment and communication that will protect our important first responders.”
Amherst Fire Chief Tim Nelson said, “We are extremely grateful for both funding opportunities. The awards will allow us to better protect our fire department team, who are critical in maintaining the health and safety of this community.”