SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A fire in an abandoned cold storage building in Worcester killed six firefighters back in 1999. This tragedy has since prompted FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to help communities better their fire services.
“The idea was departments would be encouraged under this competitive grant-writing opportunity to come up with solutions that are particular to their respective communities,” Congressman Richard Neal said.
The Springfield Fire Department applied for this grant money, and Tuesday was awarded nearly $1.4 million.
“As the third-largest city in the Commonwealth, Springfield’s fire department strives to protect its 155,000 residents on a daily basis,” Neal said.
With this money the Fire Dept. will hire eight new firefighters, two for each shift, according to Commissioner B.J. Calvi. The grant will also allow the Fire Dept. to replace seven gear extractors that wash the gear after a fire.
“Occupational cancer is the leading cause of firefighter disability right now,” said Calvi. “All the plastics that are in the modern-day home, when they burn, they give off carcinogens.”
The extractors are like washing machines for gear, removing any dangerous chemicals before they can seep into firefighters skin and harm them.
“This will go a long way in making sure that it’s done efficiently,” Calvi said.