LEOMINSTER – Several firefighters showed Mayor Dean Mazzarella new coats and pants at the station on January 3, a second set of essential equipment that was purchased with $ 180,000 in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
“Modern fires contain many carcinogens and the cancer rate among firefighters is high,” said fire chief Robert Sideleau. “Now they can wash a set after a fire and have a backup. “
The 80 members of the department will have two sets of cargo hold equipment, also called intervention equipment. The new set is LION brand, purchased by Fire Tech & Safety of NE Inc. in Chelmsford. Sideleau said they had to launch a state bid to purchase the equipment and were awaiting the arrival of six more sets for the new firefighters who joined the service this summer, an ordering process which typically takes three or four months but has doubled due to COVID.
“It’s all personalized gear measured specifically for each person,” Sideleau said, adding that because of this firefighters can’t share it with each other.
The new equipment is lined with a silver quilted thermal material, has a flame retardant material on the outside and has water absorption reducing qualities.
Longtime Leominster firefighter Bobby Penning said “arms and knees move better” than the old gear, which was last purchased seven or eight years ago, and this cargo hold gear in the 1990s was rubber.
“We’re happy to be safer,” Penning said of the new sets.
Mazzarella said the city was happy to provide the equipment to first responders.
“When I started they only had one set. Now we know the toxins they breathe in and it’s on the equipment, ”he said. “Now they have the option of always having a clean set. “
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is a $ 1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and enacted by President Biden in March 2021 to accelerate the country’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing recession.
Aide Mayor Wendy Wiiks has so far said the city has received $ 9.5 million through the plan and is expected to receive the remainder of the total of $ 19.5 million planned for Leominster by June. She said the funding could be used for “lost income, which can be turned into free money”, as well as for PPE such as fire equipment, sewer projects, etc.