BUCKSPORT, Maine — Two area fire departments have been awarded competitive grants through the federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.
The Eddington Fire Department will receive $22,491 and the Bucksport Fire Department will receive $24,320.
According to Lt. Craig Russell of the Eddington Fire Department, the grant funds will be used to buy new communications equipment, including new mobile radios for firefighters and two mobile repeaters that will go in the trucks to improve communications with the dispatch center.
“We’re trying to improve firefighter safety,” he said. “We’re going to get enough radios so that every firefighter at a scene will have a radio.”
Bucksport will use its grant funds to buy about 2,000 feet of large-diameter hose and the associated high-pressure fixtures and emergency ramps to protect the hose while in use at a fire scene, according to Bucksport Fire Chief Craig Bowden. The 4-inch hoses are used to pump water from a source to a truck or from a truck to another truck, Bowden said.
In announcing the grant awards, Sen. Susan Collins noted that the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program has been a critical source of funds for fire and rescue personnel in Maine and around the country. Since the creation of this program, Collins said, Maine fire departments have been awarded more than $50 million to help purchase vehicles and equipment that is essential to first responders.
Bucksport has made good use of the grant program. This is the sixth grant the department has received through the program in the past nine years, Bowden said. Those grants have totaled more than $300,000 for the department, and, since the department writes its own grant proposals, all those funds have gone directly toward purchasing equipment, he said.
Part of the reason for Bucksport’s success rate, Bowden said, is that the town has some high-profile facilities the department might have to respond to, including the Verso paper mill, the Webber tanks, a chemical facility and the natural gas pipeline. Those facilities are factored into the ranking on grant applications, he said.