CRANSTON, RI – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representative Jim Langevin today announced $410,250 in federal grants for the City of Cranston and the Town of Narragansett to enhance emergency readiness and help improve maritime security and protect critical port infrastructure.

The competitive grants, which are administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Port Security Grant Program (PSGP), are designed to help communities increase port-wide risk management; enhance domain awareness; conduct training and exercises; and expand port recovery and resiliency capabilities.

The Cranston Fire Department will receive $26,250 to train firefighters to become credentialed instructors in accordance with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) Boat Operations and Training (BOAT) Program.  Recognized by the United States Coast Guard as the national standard of training, the Department will use the funding to qualify and train a group of in-house instructors on the NASBLA BOAT Program standard, allowing the Department to achieve reduced costs and sustained training for current and future firefighters.

The Town of Narragansett will receive $24,000 for the same NASBLA BOAT training, as well as $360,000 to acquire a fire, rescue, and CBRNE boat (CBRNE stands for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives; and is pronounced “sea-borne”) outfitted with specialized equipment to detect and respond to incidents involving chemicals, biological substances, nuclear or explosive devices/materials.  The Narragansett Fire Department is Rhode Island’s southernmost, full-time fire department and the local emergency response agency with responsibility for protection of numerous areas within U.S. Coast Guard Sector Southeast New England, including Narragansett Bay, Block Island Sound, and the Port of Galilee, the 4th-largest commercial fishing port in the Northeast and home to 230 fishing vessels and Interstate Navigation, the ferry service that transports nearly a quarter of a million people to and from Block Island every year.  The new CBRNE-capable boat will allow the Narragansett Fire Department to respond more effectively to any possible contingency occurring within its area of jurisdiction.  

“Our first responders need to be ready to deal with a multitude of public threats -- from hurricanes, to fires, to hazardous spills or manmade disasters and this federal funding will help provide the training and resources they need to be effective.  I’m glad to see these federal dollars coming to Rhode Island to ensure local emergency personnel have the training and equipment they need.  Narragansett’s new fire rescue boat should be an important regional asset that can help neighboring communities as well,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“This funding is going to put top-of-the-line training and equipment to use in Ocean State waters.  That’s a smart investment of federal funding and a real win for Rhode Island, which depends heavily on its ports and waterways,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Congratulations to these fire departments.  I’m glad to know they’ll have the tools they need to respond to a wide range of challenges — both on land and at sea.” 

“Rhode Island’s ports are an economic centerpiece that supports commerce and makes our state more attractive to new and growing businesses.  Protecting these ports is therefore an investment in our economy and in the security of our state,” said Congressman Langevin, who is a senior member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.  “I am pleased that Rhode Island will be receiving this funding, and I am confident that this award through the Port Security Grant Program will better prepare our state, our businesses and our overall economy in facing an array of potential threats or hazards.”

“I, along with Cranston Fire Department, would like to thank Senators Reed and Whitehouse as well as Representative Langevin for their help in receiving this Port Security Grant.  The grant will allow the Cranston Fire Department to certify our boating instructors to the NASBLA standard.  The NASBLA standard is the level to which the boat operators in the Narraganset Bay Marine Task Force are trained.  The Port Security Grant will support the trainer program for NASBLA instruction to certify local instructors.  The ability to use our instructors will cut the cost of the program, while using local personnel familiar with our boats and our local waterways,” said Chief William M. McKenna of the Cranston Fire Department.

“We have a very busy and active commercial and recreational port within our community.  This funding will go a long way to enhance both fire and rescue protection not only within the Port of Galilee, Salt Pond, and Jerusalem, but all along our 23.6 sq. miles of waterway.  We had been seeking a fire/rescue boat capable of onboard fire suppression and CBRNE capabilities for several years, but just did not have the necessary funding to acquire such a vessel; until now.  Thank you to Senators Reed, Whitehouse and Representative Langevin for their support of DHS’s Port Security Grant Program,” said Chief Scott Partington of the Narragansett Fire Department.

These awards are made possible by the FY 2015 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act passed by Congress in February 2015, which provided for $100 million in PSGP funding.