4 R.I. fire departments get $5.2M for hiring, equipment

PROVIDENCE – Four Rhode Island fire departments were awarded $5.2 million in federal funding to help reduce response time and improve safety, the state’s congressional delegation announced Friday. 

The funding will support the hiring of new firefighters as well as the purchase of new vehicles and equipment and will improve public safety for numerous local communities. 

“Making sure that Rhode Island’s local fire departments have proper staffing and modern equipment is essential to enhancing public safety across our state,” said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. “These federal funds will help equip Cumberland, East Greenwich, Smithfield, and West Warwick with the resources and staff needed to respond to emergencies more efficiently and effectively, all while helping to ensure the safety of our firefighters.”   

The fire departments include: 

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Cumberland: $450,000 to purchase a new fire engine which will allow for its existing 18-year-old apparatus to be placed in reserve service.  

East Greenwich: $280,000 to improve the operations and safety of the department through acquisition of upgraded portable, mobile and base radios and vehicle repeaters which allow for reliable communications during emergencies and while rendering mutual aid. 

Smithfield: $3.6 million to hire 12 new firefighters, helping to achieve full-staffing levels for the department while reducing response times and increasing response efficiency across the town and for neighboring communities. 

West Warwick: $900,000 to purchase a new 100-foot ladder truck with modern equipment and safety features that will replace the department’s current apparatus, which is more than 24 years old. 

“The Smithfield Fire Department is very grateful to Sen. Reed and the Rhode Island congressional delegation for their assistance with securing this federal grant award to hire new firefighters,” said Smithfield Fire Chief Robert Seltzer. “We are thankful to have a delegation that understands the importance of supporting our firefighters and the value of their service to the people of our town.”