Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC - Four Delaware fire companies have secured federal funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) 2002 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, U.S. Senators Joe Biden and Tom Carper and Congressman Mike Castle announced today. The Wilmington Fire Department, the Carlisle Fire Company, the Hockessin Fire Company and the Citizens Hose Fire Company have been awarded competitive grants to improve fire operations and firefighter safety programs. Over 19,000 fire departments applied for grant awards this year. These funds will be used to increase the effectiveness of firefighting operations, improve firefighter health and safety programs, purchase new fire apparatus, enhance EMS programs, and support Fire Prevention and Safety Programs. The Assistance for Firefighters Grant Program assists rural, urban and suburban fire departments throughout the United States. "It is essential that those protecting us on the front lines have the best equipment and training available," said Biden. "We must ensure that we continue to upgrade their tools and prepare them to respond to any emergency." "Now more than ever, the nation recognizes the inherent risk to and bravery of our firefighters, catapulted into the spotlight after the tragic events of September 11th. It is our responsibility to see that they are equipped," Carper said. "Last year, Delaware firefighters successfully competed for a small pot of federal money. This year the funding was greater, and the competition was stiffer. These awards will allow Delaware's firefighters to replace aging, obsolete equipment, improving their ability to respond efficiently to fires and save lives." "In the wake of September 11, I think our entire nation realizes the importance of both career and volunteer firefighters and the services they provide us. These grants enable us to better protect these men and women who risks their lives to serve us," Castle said. "In Delaware alone, we have 5,000 active volunteer firefighters who have not asked to be paid, but instead have asked for federal support to help them do their work faster, better and safer. I am glad we are able to help them in their safety mission." Wilmington Fire Department will receive $164,928, which will be used for the purchase of Self Contained Breathing Apparatuses (SCBAs) and for the development of an enhanced wellness and fitness program for the department's members. Wilmington Fire Department Battalion Chief George Cunningham said the department was overjoyed with the announcement and the money will allow the department to better serve the residents of the City of Wilmington. The Carlisle Fire Company in Milford will receive $29,700 to be used toward the improvement of fire operations and firefighter safety. The Hockessin Fire Company will receive $138,690 for an air compressor and thirty Self Contained Breathing Apparatuses (SCBAs) . The Citizens Hose Company Number 1 in Smyrna also received $39,056 for improvements of fire operations and firefighter safety. Company Chief Gregory Parsell was grateful for the grant and said that the funds will greatly improve the firefighters ability to fight the fire and protect themselves. The funds will be used to upgrade the company's breathing apparatuses. Senator Joseph Biden Jr., Senator Tom Carper and Congressman Mike Castle are members of the bipartisan Congressional Fire Services Caucus. The largest caucus in Congress, the Fire Caucus unites Republicans and Democrats in support of fire service legislation benefitting first responders. There is a high incidence of fires during the holiday season. Most holiday fires can be easily prevented. Following these simple fire safety tips can boost survival rates dramatically. Please share them with your readers because knowledge is the best fire protection. During the holiday season there are over 1,200 fires and 190 fire injuries associated with improper holiday tree and candle care. Having a working smoke alarm more than doubles one's chance of surviving a fire. Holiday Fire Safety Life-Saving Tips
  • Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks.
  • Never put holiday tree branches or needles in a fireplace or woodburning stove.
  • When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or have it picked up by a community pick-up service.
  • Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wire, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up.
  • Only use UL approved lighting.
  • Do not overload outlets. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
  • Do not leave lit holiday lights unattended.
  • Never leave fireplaces or space heaters unattended.
  • Avoid using lit candles. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they can not be easily knocked down.
  • Never leave the house with candles burning.
  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test the batteries every month and change them at least once a year.
For more information on how you can help prevent fire deaths please contact your local fire department on a nonemergency number or the United States Fire Administration at (800) 238-3358 or www.usfa.fema.gov