By Chris Maza
LONGMEADOW – The Longmeadow Fire Department recently received a long-awaited grant award that will help it maintain its stock of protective gear for its firefighters.
The Assistance for Firefighters Grant was awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and will substantially reduce the town’s expenditure on much-needed equipment such as coats, pants and gloves.
“The lifespan on the gear according to the regulations is 10 years,” Fire Chief John Dearborn explained, “To keep up, it’s close to $5,000 per guy and we need to keep up with it in order to make sure our guys have the best gear possible when they run into a burning building. It’s a big deal for us to get this grant and to have the best equipment available.”
A media release from FEMA on Thursday, Sept. 12, indicated Longmeadow would receive $33,143 to go toward the equipment. Speaking with the Longmeadow News on Monday, Sept. 16, Dearborn said the number was actually $34,800. He added the grant carried with it a 5% match, meaning the town would be responsible for $1,657, which would come out of the operating budget.
“We put aside money in anticipation of getting these grants,” he said. “Truthfully, this grant was substantially delayed, so we have been planning for this.
Of late, Longmeadow has done well in capturing grant funding for its fire protection services. The department has been awarded nearly $500,000 for equipment and training since 2015, according to Dearborn.
“We have been really aggressive and really successful on grants, which has taken the burden off of the operating budget and off of the residents,” he said.