The Jamesport and Cutchogue Fire Departments have scored some brand-new firefighting gear, thanks to more than $182,000 in federal grant money, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced Friday.
“First responders are our primary line of defense,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement. “They safeguard our residents and protect our property. It’s crucial that we provide our fire departments with the resources they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability.”
The Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program will pay for the new equipment, which will include 80 complete sets of coats, helmets, boots, gloves, pants and more for the volunteers, according to a news release.
“It’s for personal protective equipment,” said Jamesport Fire Chief Sean McCabe. “It’s the turnout gear, the stuff the guys wear where they’re fighting the fires.”
Of the $182,478 awarded to the two departments, approximately about half will go toward the Jamesport Fire Department, with the remainder allocated to Cutchogue, Chief McCabe said.
Jamesport firefighters last received new gear 10 years ago through a similar grant, he said. Since regulations require departments to cycle out old firefighting gear every decade, this grant comes at a perfect time.
“It’ll be updated equipment with the greatest and latest,” he said. “And we don’t have to tax the people.”
Cutchogue Fire Chief Bill Brewer said his department has periodically updated equipment for firefighters, but this money will allow them to update everyone at once.
“Nowadays these combustible materials are burning hotter and faster and firefighters are getting hurt,” Chief Brewer said. “This will give us the best protection available.”
In her statement, Ms. Gillibrand said the grant would help keep firefighters safe.
“Our first responders are on the frontlines and this federal funding will allow the Jamesport Fire Department and Cutchogue Fire Departments to invest in critical protective equipment for first responders to carry out their lifesaving work more effectively in Suffolk County,” Ms. Gillibrand said. “Our firefighters should have the most up-to-date equipment when they respond to emergencies.”
The competitive joint grants were awarded based on the department’s priorities and financial need, according to a news release. Chief McCabe said the equipment should be ready by the end of next year, once all the firefighters have been refitted.