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WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas announced today that the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services has been awarded federal funding through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program.

The Department of Fire Services, which is based in Stow, will receive $496,596 to be used for self-contained breathing apparatus equipment. Tsongas, along with the entire Massachusetts delegation, strongly supported the Department of Fire Services’ grant application.

Since taking office, Tsongas has been a federal partner to public safety and has worked to ensure that first responders have the resources necessary to do their jobs safely and efficiently. Tsongas has been an advocate for programs such as the AFG and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response programs, which are the two main federal programs supporting local fire departments by helping them buy equipment and provide adequate training.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program was created because fire departments often have difficulty purchasing proper equipment. A ladder truck for a local fire department can run upwards of $1,000,000 and outfitting one firefighter with turnout gear and breathing apparatus can exceed $5,000. In addition, departments must fund training programs for paid and/or volunteer firefighters.

“The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services received this needed federal funding through a competitive grant process, which speaks to both the quality of their applications and the Departments in general,” said Tsongas. “Given the constraints on state and local budgets, competitive grant funds such as these help to maintain public safety in our communities and provide first responders with access to the resources they need to save lives. Our volunteer and career firefighters sacrifice a great deal to protect our communities and it is our duty to provide them with the equipment and training they need to keep their departments running safely and efficiently.”

“The Department of Fire Services is grateful to Congresswoman Niki Tsongas and the members of the Massachusetts Delegation for their support of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program,” said State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan. “This award will allow the agency to replace aging and well used self-contained breathing apparatus. Updating this equipment is critical to the individual safety of both student firefighters and training staff and is essential to the overall goal of a well-trained fire service throughout the commonwealth.”

The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services is the commonwealth’s sole agency charged with the coordination of statewide fire services. It is statutorily charged with providing statewide hazardous materials response, code compliance and enforcement, and the statewide training of firefighters.

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