WEST ORANGE, NJ – The West Orange Fire Department (WOFD) was recently awarded a FY2018 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) in the amount of $293,274.54 for the replacement of 44 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), 88 carbon-wrapped air cylinders and 88 face pieces that have reached obsolescence.

The new equipment will be compliant with the current National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards 1981/82, which establish requirements for SCBA and Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS), respectively. This specialized personal protective equipment is necessary for firefighters to enter any atmosphere that is deemed immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) such as a structure fire or a hazardous materials release.

The grant award will outfit the department with this state-of-the-art equipment, which includes innovative technology such as the ability to track each firefighter who enters an IDLH atmosphere with a “Pak Tracker” hand-held receiver. The grant award comes just as WOFD has reached “end of service life” with the current equipment in use.

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“We are extremely pleased that FEMA recognized our immediate need with this award”, said West Orange Fire Chief Anthony Vecchio. “These new packs come with Bluetooth-enabled electronics which support wireless connections between the packs and even collects retrievable usage data which can be downloaded and used for after-action reviews and training. They are innovative and high-tech and we are excited to get them in –hand and in-service.”

The USDHS states in the award that the purpose of the AFG program is to “protect the health and safety of the public and firefighting personnel against fire and fire-related hazards.”

“After careful consideration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has determined that the WOFD project submitted as part of their application as detailed in the project narrative as well as the request details section of the application – including budget information –was consistent with the AFG program’s purpose and was worthy of award,” the award states.

The AFG program requires a 10-percent match from the award recipient. The West Orange Township Council has approved a resolution to accept the award and to fund the 10-percent match.

The WOFD, a multi-faceted public safety agency, provides fire protection, hazard mitigation, emergency medical services, fire prevention education and fire code enforcement to the community of West Orange and its neighboring mutual-aid communities.

The department held an open house event earlier this week in order to promote fire safety through live demonstrations and to interact with community members. Guests were invited to watch the raising of a 100-foot aerial ladder, operate a real fire hose, win giveaways and enjoy light refreshments. 

To learn more about the West Orange Fire Department, visit the township website or contact the department at 973-325-4175 or fireprev@westorange.org.