By Jeannie O'Sullivan
Two fire departments in Burlington County have been awarded Federal Emergency Management Agency grants to improve safety.
The Consolidated Fire Association in Bordentown City and the New Gretna Volunteer Fire Department in Bass River will receive $189,407 and $7,600, respectively, through FEMA's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.
Consolidated Fire Chief John Walls said the money will go toward protective clothing and new breathing devices, known as self-contained breathing apparatus, or SCBA, for the department's roughly 50 members.
"It's what the firefighters wear when they enter into the burning building," said Walls, noting that the upgraded SCBAs are equipped with a "buddy system" mechanism. Walls said the grant-writing and application process took about a year and a half.
A total of $770,428 was awarded to New Jersey fire departments in this round of FEMA's Assistance to Firefighters Grant and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs. Other recipients included fire companies in Cherry Hill, Berkeley Heights in Union County, Deal and Englishtown in Monmouth County, and Rutherford in Bergen County.
"Properly equipping our firefighters is one of the most basic steps we can take to show our firefighters and our communities we care about their safety," said U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan, R-3rd District of Mount Laurel, a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus.