HERMON, Maine — The town fire department has been awarded a $26,600 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins announced Wednesday.
“Our career and volunteer firefighters are among our bravest public servants. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is an extremely critical source of funds for our fire and rescue personnel,” said Collins, who is a ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
“Since the creation of this program, Maine fire departments have been awarded more than $50 million to help purchase new, used or refurbished vehicles, and to obtain equipment for firefighting, interoperable communications, chemical detection and other purposes that are essential to first responders,” she said.
The Hermon Fire Department grant, which is subject to approval from the Town Council and a local match, will be used to purchase a thermal imaging camera, which allows firefighters to see in smoke-filled conditions, Fire Chief Ray Pipes said Wednesday evening. The technology is designed to help fire crews find victims and fires more quickly when visibility is poor, he said.
The grant also will help pay for a Rapid Intervention Team, or RIT, pack, which Pipes said is equipped with a spare air bottle that can be taken into a building containing a trapped firefighter. The air bottle then can be hooked up to the trapped firefighter’s air pack to replenish his or her air supply.
The grant also will provide for training on both pieces of equipment.
According to Collins, the grant funding will be distributed through the Operations and Firefighting Safety Program, which addresses training, equipment, wellness and fitness and modifications to facilities.
Collins strongly supported the creation of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, which provides funding to fire departments across the nation. The money is used to increase the effectiveness of firefighting operations and purchase equipment and for firefighter health and safety programs, emergency medical service pro-grams and fire prevention and safety programs.