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(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) announced today that the New London and Alton Fire Departments have been awarded money for operations and safety through the Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

“These funds will go toward sorely needed equipment upgrades for firefighters in New London and Alton, making them both safer and more effective on the job,” Shaheen said.  “Better gear means more efficient firefighting, and more efficient firefighting means safer communities.”

The New London Fire Department will use its $122,788 grant to purchase more than 20 self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs), the breathing systems that firefighters use when fighting structural fires.  This equipment is more important than ever because of the increased use of synthetic fabrics in the home, which release toxic chemicals that when ignited, drastically increase the risk of cancer and heart attack in firefighters. The Department’s current set of SCBAs was purchased in the 1970s.

“We're extremely fortunate to have Senator Shaheen and other elected officials looking out for New Hampshire fire services to make sure we're able to address our pressing equipment needs,” said New London Fire Chief Jason Lyon.  Chief Lyon added that without the assistance and continued support of these important programs, fire departments nationally would not be able to purchase these basic necessities. 

Alton Fire and Rescue will use its $46,267 grant to purchase approximately 20 sets of turnout gear—the helmets, jackets, pants, and protective gear that firefighters wear when fighting structural fires.  The Department will also use the funds to purchase a new washer/dryer extractor to clean the turnout gear, significantly extending the life of the equipment.  Alton's current gear was about to go out of compliance.

“Turnout gear is the most important equipment for firefighters and the equipment that is most directly responsible for their safety and well-being,” said Alton Fire Chief Scott Williams.  “It’s also my goal to source the contract for the turnout gear to a New Hampshire company.”

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program provides funding to local fire departments to help them improve the effectiveness of firefighting operations through specialized emergency training for response to situations like terrorist attacks; enhancement of emergency medical services programs; development of health and safety initiatives; establishment of fire education and prevention programs; creation of wellness and fitness programs; and equipment and facility upgrades.  All grants require a local match.