MATTAWAMKEAG, Maine — Town firefighters will get a new fire scene safety system, that they plan to share with other towns, and new turnout gear thanks to a $101,175 federal grant U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud announced Wednesday.
“We are so blessed to receive this,” Mattawamkeag Deputy Fire Chief Lynn Powers said of the grant.
She described the town’s turnout gear — overcoats, pants, helmets and other garb individual firefighters wear — as “really old, mismatching, torn, and worn. It’s been through a lot of firefighters and it is in poor shape,” Powers said.
Powers and her husband, Fire Chief Bobby Powers, had to take 10 sets of turnout gear offline last year because they were in such bad shape, she said.
The grant will pay for 20 sets of turnout gear, 11 new air packs — or breathing apparatus firefighters wear — and the safety system as part of the grant, Michaud said in a statement.
“These grants improve public safety by providing critical resources to our first responders,” said Michaud. “In order to best serve our communities, our firefighters should have access to the best training, equipment and facilities we can offer.”
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations.
Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders obtain needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards, Michaud said.
The fire scene safety system provides firefighters with tags they wear at fire scenes. The tags are collected by incident commanders from interior attack team members and help prevent firefighters from getting lost in burning buildings or on other searches during emergencies, Bobby Powers said.
The system comes with a camera and tag-making kit that Powers is willing to lend to area departments. Any department interested in borrowing the kit can call him or his wife at 794-4183, he said.
The town’s 20 firefighters are paid from minimum wage to $12 per hour per call they take. The new equipment, Lynn Powers said, will help retain and recruit firefighters. They hope to buy it within two months.
The department also received a new ambulance in November.