Blumenthal, Murphy, Himes Announce Federal Grant For Norwalk Firefighter Escape Systems

(Hartford, CT) - U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Congressman Jim Himes (D-4) today announced a $158,598 federal grant for the Norwalk Fire Department to purchase 132 personal escape systems and train firefighters in their use. These systems are hooked up directly to firefighter turnout gear and provide specialized ropes that allow users to jump safely from windows. The ropes are automatically controlled via hands free devices to reduce the speed of decent.

The grant program is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.

“This grant will provide state of the art escape gear for Norwalk firefighters, enabling them to safely descend from burning buildings and help evacuate and rescue residents trapped inside. These brave firefighters risk their lives every day to protect the Norwalk community and these new escape systems will not only help protect their lives, but will help them save the lives of countless others,” said Blumenthal, Murphy and Himes.

“I am really pleased this grant was awarded to the City of Norwalk Fire Department. There is nothing more important than protecting our first responders and keeping them safe while they are putting themselves in harm’s way. We need to give them the equipment that will best protect them while on the job,” said Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling.

"The Norwalk Fire Department is grateful for the support our Congressional Delegation has provided to sustain the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. The NFD is fortunate to receive a 2014 AFG grant to enhance firefighter safety.  Fires are increasing hazardous environments due to rapid heat buildup and early building failure under fire conditions. We will use the AFG grant to purchase self-rescue ropes, harnesses and descenders. Firefighters caught above the fire will be able to escape though windows or rescue and lower fire victims using this system.  Thanks go to Senator Blumenthal and Congressmen Himes and Senator Murphy for their support of the fire service and the AFG program,” said Norwalk Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Denis McCarthy.  

The grant is the 6th firefighting grant awarded in Connecticut for Fiscal Year 2013. Stamford received $1.05 million to hire six additional firefighters through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) and Assistance to Firefighters grant programs administered by FEMA. Orange, Waterbury, Stafford Ambulance Association Inc. and the town of East Hartford also received grants to support operations and safety measures. 

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Elizabeth Benton