By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Northborough – U.S. Congressman James McGovern (D-MA 2nd District,) paid a visit to the Northborough Fire Department March 1 to view the new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) equipment that the department recently purchased.
The equipment was purchased with funds from a $252,096 Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The grant enabled the department to purchase a complete program consisting of 41 SCBA air packs and three rip packs without taking needed funding from other areas in the capital budget.
“These are what the firefighters wear whenever they go into any toxic environment whether it’s smoke or chemical or any toxic environment or any IDLH (Immediate Danger to Life or Health),” explained Northborough Fire Chief David Parenti.
Parenti and Firefighter James Desaultes led the efforts in writing the grant, obtaining the funds after two previous submissions.
McGovern noted that the grant program was started after the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. fire on Dec. 3, 1999 claimed the lives of six firefighters from that community.
“What learned in the Worcester fire was the equipment wasn’t what it should be and just basic infrastructure wasn’t what it should be,” McGovern noted.
“Each pack is just under $7,000. For us to be able to purchase them all in one shot without a grant requires us to take a boatload of money, $290,000 from somewhere else [in the budget],” Parenti said. “We just started training with them today and they will be in service, we hope by the end of the month.”
Town Administrator John Coderre noted he “was most appreciative” of McGovern’s efforts to help secure the grant for the equipment.