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Hampstead, Danville fire departments get federal grants

Fire departments in Hampstead and Danville will be awarded almost $100,000 in federal grant money, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's office announced yesterday.

Hampstead was awarded $59,375 and Danville $38,855 from the Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, Shaheen's office said.

Hampstead fire Chief Michael Carrier and Danville fire Chief Steven Woitkun said neither town has received official word from Homeland Security about the award, but expected to hear from them on Friday.

Woitkun said he would not comment on the grant, or what the department would use the money for, until Friday.

In Hampstead, Carrier said the grant would pay for the town to install a vehicle exhaust removal system in the station, to help circulate vehicle fumes out of the building.

"It's a health and safety issue," he said.

Carrier said the grant calls for Hampstead to share 5 percent of the cost of the system, something for which the department has already budgeted.

He said the grant program was great for communities around the country.

"With economic conditions and property taxes being high, this is greatly appreciated assistance from the federal government," he said.

More fire departments have the exhaust systems than do not, Carrier said.

"That was one of my priorities when I took over as fire chief in Hampstead," he said, "to create a better working environment relative to the health and safety of the firefighters."

The department has applied for another grant from a different area of the same federal program. If the grant is awarded, it would pay for a new ladder truck.

"One down, and hopefully another one to go," Carrier said.

The grant program funds local departments around the country to help make firefighting operations more effective. Shaheen's office said uses of the money can include terrorism response training, enhancement of emergency medical services programs, health and safety initiatives, fire prevention and education, wellness and fitness programs and equipment and facility upgrades.

In a statement, Shaheen praised state firefighters for putting their lives on the line.

"These funds will ensure that our courageous first responders have the resources they need to continue doing their job safely and effectively," she said.