The Star-Herald

Presque Isle Fire Department gets COVID grant

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Presque Isle Fire Department was awarded on Tuesday a grant to purchase additional personal protective equipment for firefighters.

“This is for PPE for our COVID-19 response,” said Chief Darrell White on Tuesday. “It is for gloves, face masks, gowns, face shields.”

The Presque Isle $13,286 allocation was one of 10 grants, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters grant program, and will help the Presque Isle Fire Department safely respond to calls.

According to White, the firefighters use the disposable equipment four, five and even six times a day. 

“We pretty much use it [PPE] on every call,” White said, adding that while dispatch does some initial screening, the fire department can’t chance a firefighter quarantined for 14 days.  “We have to keep everyone safe.”

Although PPE equipment was difficult to purchase at the beginning of the pandemic, White said that has eased up and it is now a little easier to get. 

The department applied for the funding about four months ago and U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced the award recipients  on Tuesday afternoon.  

“Firefighters and fire support staff put their lives on the line every day to protect us,” the senators said in a joint statement.  “This important investment will help to ensure that Maine fire departments have the necessary equipment and personnel to continue to keep our families and communities safe in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Other departments awarded a portion of the more than $80,000 grant include,  Aurora Volunteer Fire Department, $1,213.29; Oakland, Albion, Clinton, Fairfield, Waterville, and Winslow Fire Departments, $32,653.82;  Rockland Fire Department and EMS,$9,738.10; and Westbrook Fire Rescue Department, $24,612.95.

The Presque Isle Fire Department is a combined department with 20 career firefighters and 24 volunteers. The equipment should last the department about eight months, White said. 

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