EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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January 28, 2008

Grant means new turnout gear for firefighters

SANDOWN - A $41,724 federal grant will buy 20 sets of protective gear for firefighters. Called turnouts, each set includes boots, pants, coat, gloves, helmet and face shield.

Fire Chief Irving Bassett said he was very happy to learn Friday that the department's grant application was approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"I'm thrilled," Bassett said. "Of course, it's a big relief to taxpayers, too."

Some of the department's old turnout gear is 20 years old. The new shipment, expected in 60 days, will allow the department to outfit all its on-call firefighters in the latest turnout attire.

"It won't burn until the temperature gets way, way up there," Bassett said of the Nomex brand gear.

Fire Capt. Ken Scipione wrote the grant application about three months ago.

The grant is for first responders, and FEMA is awarding grants throughout the country.

FEMA's 2007 grants will ultimately provide more than $490 million to fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations, according to a prepared statement by FEMA.

"These grants underscore FEMA's continued commitment to provide first responders with the resources needed to serve their residents in disasters of all type, both natural and man-made," U.S. Fire Administrator Greg Cade said.

Sandown's department, with the exception of Bassett, is an all-volunteer force with 32 firefighters and eight rescue technicians.

Bassett has been with the department since 1959, and has been chief for 24 years.

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