RI Congressional Delegation Announces $1.6 Million for 3 New Fire Trucks

Central Falls, Exeter, and Woonsocket win federal grants for new pumper and ladder trucks to enhance public safety

CENTRAL FALLS, RI – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced $1,601,344 in federal funding to help fire departments in Central Falls, Exeter, and Woonsocket purchase new, state-of-the-art trucks and firefighting equipment. The new trucks will provide these communities with enhanced emergency response capabilities, vehicle safety advancements, and financial savings.

The funding is made available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG).

The Central Falls Fire Department is being awarded $476,191 to help replace their current 1988 Pumper Fire Apparatus, which is no longer operational and faces repair costs estimated above the value of the truck. Significant safety advances in fire trucks have been made over the last 28 years and the new pumper truck will fill the need for a reliable and safe apparatus to effectively respond to emergency situations. The modem pumper truck will provide firefighters with enhanced safety as they extinguish fires more efficiently and reduce the loss of critical infrastructure.

The Exeter Fire Department No. 1, a volunteer fire department that provides emergency services to the eastern half of Exeter, will receive a $443,334 AFG award to purchase a new pumper engine. The new truck will have increased pumping capacity and other enhanced safety features to help Exeter #1 improve their emergency response and firefighting capabilities.

The Woonsocket Fire Department is being awarded $681,819 to purchase a new aerial ladder truck to augment an aging fleet. The new truck will feature a 100-foot ladder and a “pre-piped waterway,” which will help firefighters save valuable time during an emergency by connecting right from the hydrant to the rear of the truck, allowing them to quickly shoot water to the top of the ladder instead of completing a series of connections typically required by older models of trucks. This apparatus will have an immediate and significant impact on the operations of the Department and contribute to the safety of both firefighters and residents. This new vehicle will also have a regional impact, allowing the Woonsocket Fire Department to better support surrounding town fire departments when responding to mutual aid emergencies.

In 2014, the Woonsocket Fire Department received $271,292 in federal AFG funding for the construction of new fire alarms systems in four fire stations and to purchase personal escape systems — which allow firefighters trapped in life-threatening situations to quickly repel out a window to safety.

“This is terrific news for the community. When responding to an emergency, every second counts and these new trucks will help our firefighters save lives and safely respond to fires, rescues, and other emergencies,” said Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, who leads an annual fire grant workshop to help fire departments across the state apply for competitive federal assistance. “I commend Woonsocket, Exeter, and Central Falls for successfully applying for these competitive grants. Older fire trucks can be challenging and costly to maintain and these federal funds should help expedite the replacement process. I’ll continue working at the federal level to support our firefighters and ensure they have the equipment they need to get the job done.”

“With competing demands on local budgets, it can be a challenge for cities and towns to make big investments in the equipment firefighters need to do their jobs safely and efficiently,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “Trucks are among the most expensive and important tools firefighters use to keep our communities safe. With these federal funds, the Woonsocket, Central Falls, and Exeter fire departments will be able to make major upgrades to their truck fleets.”

“Pumper and ladder trucks are among the most important, and most costly, pieces of equipment that our fire departments need to effectively serve our communities. Congratulations to the Exeter, Central Falls, and Woonsocket Fire Departments for successfully pursuing federal funds to offset these significant costs and to improve public safety in Rhode Island,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.

“I’m delighted that these three communities are receiving state-of-the-art fire trucks through FEMA,” said Congressman David Cicilline, who advocated on behalf of the City of Woonsocket’s request. “This will help ensure our brave first responders can do their jobs as effectively and safely as possible. It will make a real difference in our communities and in keeping Rhode Islanders safe. This is exactly how government should work for the people it serves.”

“One of my top priorities when I became mayor was to invest in public services,” said Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa. “I am extremely pleased that our fire department will be receiving the funds necessary to replace our aging pumper. With the new apparatus, we can rest assured that our fire department will better serve our residents and maintain the safety of Central Falls as its top priority. I thank Senator Jack Reed and our congressional delegation for their leadership on securing these funds.”

“It is critical that the brave men and women of the Woonsocket Fire Department are equipped with the best equipment possible to serve and protect members of our community,” said Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt. “With the help of Rhode Island’s hard working federal delegation, Woonsocket will be better equipped to respond to emergency situations in the City and region. The funding secured by Senator Reed, Senator Whitehouse, and Congressman Cicilline represents a tremendous investment in public safety in our community and I would like to thank them for their continued advocacy on behalf of the City of Woonsocket.”

Last year, Congress appropriated $306 million in competitive, federal AFG grants to help fire departments and non-affiliated EMS organizations nationwide.

AFG is a competitive grant program designed to aid fire departments and emergency medical service organizations in meeting their equipment, training, and other needs. Since Congress established the program in 2001, Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders have won nearly $28 million in AFG awards.