CRANSTON, RI – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced two new public safety grants totaling $143,992 for the Smithfield Fire Department and the Westerly Ambulance Corps.

Smithfield firefighters will receive $20,182 to purchase a new personal protective equipment washer/extractor and dryer to support maintenance of their firefighters’ protective gear.  Contaminated gear can expose firefighters to unsafe chemicals and biological agents.  This state-of-the-art commercial washer and dryer will help safely and efficiently decontaminate, wash, and dry personal protective equipment, including turnout gear, helmets, gloves, boots, face masks, and self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA), without damaging this specialized gear.

The Westerly Ambulance Corps will utilize their $123,810 grant to purchase a Paramedic First Response Vehicle.  When designing this vehicle during the grant process, Westerly Ambulance sought a vehicle that would have the ability to facilitate interdepartmental communication and therefore could serve as a mobile command center during larger-scale incidents.

The delegation supported the departments’ successful grant applications to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The funding comes from FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG), which is designed to help fire departments and emergency medical service organizations meet their equipment, training, and other needs. 

“This federal funding will help ensure the gear Smithfield firefighters rely on is properly decontaminated and could extend its usage.  With a new first response vehicle in Westerly, paramedics will be even better prepared to serve the community safely and effectively,” said Senator Jack Reed, who leads an annual fire grant workshop to help fire departments across the state apply for competitive federal assistance.  “I appreciate the life-saving work that our firefighters, EMS crews, and first responders do to keep our neighborhoods safe.  I will continue working to provide federal assistance to help staff and equip our fire departments throughout Rhode Island and ensure they have the right tools for the job.”

“Every day, our firefighters and first responders put themselves in harm’s way to keep our communities safe.  This funding will help ensure they have the up-to-date equipment needed to do their jobs efficiently and safely.  I congratulate both the Westerly Ambulance Corps and the Smithfield Fire Department on these federal awards,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

“Rhode Island’s public safety professionals have been proactive in their pursuit of federal funding, and it continues to pay off,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.  “A new emergency vehicle will make a tremendous difference for the Westerly Ambulance Corps and the Town of Westerly, and residents of Smithfield will likewise benefit from this latest round of AFG funding, making these towns and our state safer for all.”

"Rhode Island's first responders deserve state-of-the-art equipment ‎that ensures they can do their jobs as safely and effectively as possible," said Congressman David Cicilline.  "I am proud that our state is receiving this new funding through FEMA's Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, and I congratulate the men and women of the Smithfield Fire Department on this important award."

“The receipt of an Assistance to Firefighters Grant enables the Smithfield Fire Department to complete a purchase that normally would take away from other operating funds that at the present time we do not have any additional money to support,” said Smithfield Fire Chief Robert Seltzer.  “The receipt of this grant takes a burden off of the local taxpayers and actually saves the department money.  By purchasing equipment that better maintains our firefighter protective gear, the service life will increase which will save the town money in the long run.”

“This vehicle will allow our department to offer additional services to the communities in which we serve.  It will put an additional vehicle on the road which can provide emergency medical services, and when not providing emergency services the provider will be able to participate in community outreach activities.  We are excited about being able to provide said services and look forward to expanding these services once the RI Department of Health Division of EMS releases their protocols in regards to Community Paramedicine,” said Chief Bethany Gingerella of the Westerly Ambulance Corps.