Westfield Fire Department awarded $137,579 grant from feds
WESTFIELD - U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, joined Westfield Fire Chief Mary R. Regan and other local officials Monday afternoon to announce that the Fire Department has been awarded a $137,579 federal Department of Homeland Assistance to Firefighters Grant.
The grant will allow the department to cover the costs of having personnel fill in while nine firefighters attend 12 weeks of training each at the Department of Fire Services Fire Training Academy in Stowe over the next year and a half.
“Equipping our bravest men and women with adequate training so they can protect us and themselves in a time of need is simply a good idea,” Neal stated in a press release issued by his office. “Ensuring safety is a responsibility of the federal government and I am pleased to advocate for Western Massachusetts.”
“Obviously, we are very pleased about receiving the grant,” Regan said.
The department has one firefighter enrolled at the academy now and two more lined up to go,iin late summer, according to the chief.
How soon she can send firefighters on to the academy depends on how quickly openings at it occur, Regan said.
Although the training is free, she said it can be expensive to have the recruits’ shifts covered in their absence.
Of the department’s 86 firefighters about 48 percent have gotten training at the academy and when the next nine completes course work that percentage should rise to about 60 percent.
Regan said her goal is to get fire academy training for all the department’s firefighters.
While at the academy they receive training in such areas as how to handle hazardous materials and how to put out a structure fire.
“The ability to send these young recruits for this professional development allows the department to provide first-class protection of lives and property in our community while giving the young recruits the knowledge and experience they need to work safety in dangerous conditions,” Regan stated in the press release.
The grant will allow new recruits to get Firefighter I and II certification from the academy.
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