New York, NY -- The Atlantic City Fire Department has some 250 full-time firefighters and six fire stations serving a southern New Jersey population of 40,000. The department received last month a federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) of almost $490,000 to replace personal protective equipment ravaged by Hurricane Sandy and years of on-the-job use. The local share of the grant brought the total to $543,400.
This week, the Milmay Volunteer Fire Company, in an unincorporated community of 1,500 in Buena Vista Township, also in Atlantic County, was awarded a similar bounty. It received $9,168 (local share $482) to replace its deteriorated personal protective equipment for its 20 volunteers: boots, helmets, hoods, gloves, coats, and pants, all at least 15 years old. Fire Chief Eric Hensel said, “the rubber on the boots was cracked, the helmets outfitted with non-adjustable headbands, straps frayed, and the gloves contaminated with soot or grease.”
Chief Hensel added that, “not only was our equipment old, but we were suffering financially from a straight-line wind storm that occurred several years ago. It tore the roof off of our 70-year-old fire house, and caused some $500,000 in damage.” Insurance helped, he said, but it left the department with little cash.
The Director of Grants for Region II of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Dale McShine, announced the Milmay grant at regional headquarters here today. FEMA administers the AFG program, she said, “and it is most gratifying that these awards help firefighters protect their communities, of whatever size, and whether or not they are full-time or volunteers.”
“All of our firefighters are volunteers and we have a small community and a small budget,” Chief Hensel said. “And regardless of a fire company’s size, you still face the same issues: one person’s injury or life lost is the same. This grant will help us do our jobs,” he added.
FEMA’s AFG program has been aiding firefighters and other first responders since 2001. “The program provides critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards,” said Tania Hedlund, FEMA’s Grants Branch Chief. In 2012, the AFG provided funding of $25,340,000 for FEMA’s Region II (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands).
For further information, please contact William H. Douglass at FEMA: 212-680-3665 or 917-561-3223.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.