Above: EGFD Chief Bernie Patenaude shows Sen. Jack Reed some of the equipment purchased with federal grant money Reed helped make possible.
Sen. Jack Reed dropped by the EG Fire Department’s Station One on Main Street Thursday, just as the snow began, to check out the breathing gear and other equipment purchased through a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency made possible with Reed’s help.
“Getting these grants is no sure thing. There’s a very competitive application process, so I commend the chief and his colleagues for making a great case to FEMA,” Reed said during a brief presentation. He lauded everyone in the department for their work during the pandemic as well.
“Thank you and all your brothers and sisters … because you face danger and challenge every day and you do it with great skill and great effort,” Reed said. “That kind of courage has to be applauded.”
Recalling the weeks in November and December after 19 firefighters had tested positive for COVID-19, Reed noted the help North Kingstown was able to offer by staffing Station 2. “This is another example of the superb cooperation and coordination of our fire services,” he said.
The $187,000 grant paid for 25 Scott air packs, 50 Scott air cylinders, 39 Scott masks, 1 Rapid Intervention Team pack, 1 pack tracker, and a mask fit test machine. Reed also lauded the combined efforts of EG fire and NK fire on a joint grant application for ambulance equipment for both departments.
According to Chief Bernie Patenaude, getting grant money for essential equipment is beneficial not just to the fire department but to the entire town.
“This is money the town didn’t have to spend and we had to do it,” he said. “We would otherwise not be able to afford the equipment in a timely manner, or we would have had to spend the money and something else would have had to be put on hold.”
Patenaude said staffing at EGFD has improved greatly in 2021. While two men are out with injuries, two new firefighters have finished all their training and will be starting as regular firefighters on Monday. A third new hire begins the fire academy on Monday. Welcome to all three new firefighters!
We would like to thank Senator Reed and Chief Patenaude for their efforts in obtaining this grant.”