Sen. Susan Collins joined Milford officials to celebrate the town fire department’s award of nearly $100,000 in federal funds to install a sprinkler system at its station Friday afternoon.
The town’s fire department is receiving the $95,238 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters program. It will be used to safeguard millions of dollars worth of firefighting equipment and records stored in the attached town office, Chief Josh Mailman said earlier this month.
Collins shook hands with members of the fire department and toured the building during her Friday visit. Afterward, she and Mailman gave brief remarks outside the station.
“It’s ironic, in a way, that we have a fire department — and there are many that don’t — that doesn’t have a sprinkler system, given that we encourage the installation of them,” she said.
The senator was part of the team that originally wrote the bill that created the source of funding FEMA administers that will pay for the system, she said.
The program was created in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and is a versatile source of funding for fire departments across the country and Maine, Collins said.
“I remember being struck as I looked at the scenes that day, of the firefighters rushing into the falling debris, the searing flames of the World Trade Center towers, while others were fleeing,” Collins said. “I could not help but wonder where such courage comes from, to go into danger to rescue others.”
Just like the homes where they fight fires, the fire department’s building is also vulnerable to fire, according to Mailman.
A firefighter can be cooking something on the stove in one moment, a call can come in the next moment, and the burner stays on as firefighters rush to respond, Mailman said.
The Milford municipal building was built in the late 1970s and could use some other upgrades, but sprinklers are a good start, Mailman said. There are always two people in the station.