Conn. fire department awarded over $200K in FEMA grants
The fire department will use the funds to replace power stretchers and stretcher hoists in its ambulance fleet
By Don Stacom
The Hartford Courant
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — New Britain has won more than $230,000 in federal grants that will make firehouses safer and modernize equipment on its fleet of ambulances, city officials announced Friday.
The city is still waiting on responses to its applications for another $2.1 million in aid, but meanwhile convened a meeting at the Beaver Street firehouse to publicly thank Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
“We don’t have to tell you how we struggle with tight budgets to find alternative ways to fund these critical functions of our city,” Mayor Erin Stewart told Blumenthal as nearly a dozen firefighters and emergency medical technicians looked on.
The city will receive about $202,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to replace power stretchers and stretcher hoists in its ambulance fleet. Another $30,000 will pay for installing fire alarm systems at New Britain’s four oldest firehouses.
Fire Chief Raul Ortiz and EMS Chief Bruce Baxter both said those tasks are important to public safety.
“Some of our firehouses are so old that they didn’t have a fire alarm system,” Ortiz said. "With us being a 24/7 agency with our firefighters in the house, they need that protection that we afford to all of our residents."
Blumenthal said it’s important to support the state’s firefighters.
“Their diligence literally saves lives. By investing in this equipment, we are enabling more proactive and preventive fire service,” he said. “New Britain is one of the best in the state.”
Stewart, a Republican, made a point of praising Blumenthal and the rest of Connecticut’s all-Democratic Congressional delegation for helping the city. Ortiz praised him for “always being an advocate” for the fire service.
“There are other grant applications we are going to be fighting for," Blumenthal said.
New Britain has asked for about $2 million to help hire 12 more firefighters as well as $110,000 in fire prevention grants. Blumenthal said he expects FEMA will name the recipients sometime later this year.
More than 100 departments across the nation received aid in the first round of grants. Blumenthal said several are in Connecticut, but emphasized that New Britain was getting one of the larger grants.
©2019 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)