Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Congressman Stephen F. Lynch announced today that the Town of Whitman has been awarded a Fire Grant from the Department of Homeland Security and United States Fire Administration (USFA).  The federally-funded award, in the amount of $158,037, will be used to purchase new communications equipment and a vehicle exhaust extraction system and update training materials for firefighters.

Congressman Lynch, with the active assistance of Chief Tim Travers, advocated on behalf of Whitman’s application with the Director of the Office of Domestic Preparedness for the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, C. Suzanne Mencer.  Whitman is the sixth community in the Ninth Congressional District to receive an award in Fiscal Year 2004.

Funded by Congress, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is designed to increase the effectiveness of firefighting operations, firefighter health and safety programs, new fire apparatus, EMS programs, and Fire Prevention and Safety Programs.  The total of all FY 2004 awards will represent a $750 million investment to enhance fire and EMS service delivery throughout the United States.

"Firefighters are on the front lines of protecting our communities.  They risk their lives to keep our families safe and our homeland secure. This funding will go a long way in helping these brave men and women continue the extraordinary job they do for all those in their communities,” Senator Kennedy said of the funding. 

Congressman Lynch said, "This grant is some good news for the Town of Whitman.  Chief Tim Travers put a strong case forward to Homeland Security officials and it’s obvious they recognized his department’s hard work and commitment to the people they’ve sworn to protect.  I realize that the state budget situation is very difficult right now and we continue to work with our great Whitman Delegation at the State House, Senator Bob Creedon and Representative Kathy Teahan, to come up with ways to get us through these tough economic times.  I hope that by directing these federal dollars toward local public safety needs, we will provide some relief to the local tax base.”

Nearly 20,000 fire departments - volunteer and career - applied for grant awards this year, submitting requests totaling almost $2.5 billion. A lengthy peer review, involving 300 fire service representatives from throughout the United States, was conducted by the USFA over the past several months.  Whitman was one of just 230 fire departments nationwide, and nine in Massachusetts, to be selected in this round of awards. 

Congressman Lynch has been working closely with each of the cities and towns in the Ninth Congressional District on their applications for federal grants under the Fire Act, and additional funding for first responders made available after September 11th.  Lynch added, "Whitman’s commitment to providing its firefighters with state-of-the art equipment and training and the town’s cooperation with regional emergency officials have made them an ideal candidate for homeland security funding.  But it’s been the leadership of Chief Travers at the Fire Department and Chief Schnyer at the Police Department that has made Whitman so successful at securing these funds.”