The Johnston Fire Department beat heavy odds on Monday as it scored what many Johnston firefighters called a “huge historic first.”
The department was awarded an $180,000 grant from FEMA that resulted in 66 sets of new state-of-the-art turnout gear, which Chief Peter Lamb said will “be a huge help for the taxpayers of Johnston.”
The grant – which was announced to many on-duty Johnston firefighters Monday inside the department’s headquarters on 1521 Atwood Ave. – placed the department in a unique category that FEMA Fire Program Specialist David L. Parr said began “with 10,000 applications from all over the country that were then narrowed down to 2,000 for final judging.”
That’s where Johnston Fire Lt. Will Fish, Lt. Craig Stevens and Lt. Paul Livoli shined, especially since they made up the department’s Grant Committee that also included Lamb.
“The bidding for the grants was very, very competitive,” said Parr, who directs FEMA’s Region One Grants Program. “As I said, we began with 10,000 applications that were whittled down to 2,000 before the final selection was made.”
When that decision came, the Johnston Fire Department became the first in Rhode Island to receive the $180,000 grant that resulted in the purchase of state-of-the-art firefighting gear, including turnout coats, bunk pants and suspenders.
“This is a huge win for members of the Johnston Fire Department,” Lamb said. “Our firefighters will now have a second set of gear which will enable them to wash a set after a fire and have a backup to wear.”
He added: “This is state-of-the-art gear that includes an environmental barrier which will better protect us from cancer-causing agents. My compliments to the Grant Committee for their hard work and dedication in writing this successful grant.”
Battalion Chief Richard Boehm, who serves as the fire department’s training/safety officer, also took part in Monday’s historic announcement.
Boehm later noted that the 66 sets of gear, which cost approximately $3,000 each, were purchased from Firematic Supply based in Milford, Massachusetts. Charlie Poirier, the company’s director of sales, was also on hand for Monday’s announcement.