Grant a welcome Christmas gift for local first responders

STURBRIDGE — A potentially life-saving present will be under the local fire station’s Christmas tree this year.

The Sturbridge Fire Department has received more than $7,000 in grants for gear and equipment from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) and the Department of Fire Services (DFS). The awards include $850 for firefighter turnout gear and a $6,416.72 for washer-extractor equipment.

According to a statement released by Sturbridge Fire Chief John Grasso, Jr., the grant’s programs aim to reduce the amount of cancer-causing chemicals that firefighters are exposed to in the course of their work by providing them with modern protective gear to wear while fighting fires, and modern gear washing machines to clean contaminants from their gear before they wear it to the next emergency.

The fire department will use the grant funding to purchase 10 gloves for personal protection during firefighting operations, and one washer-extractor for gear cleaning.

“The purchase of these items represents a significant step forward in our ongoing cancer prevention efforts at the Sturbridge Fire Department,” said Grasso. “Equipping our firefighters with new gloves and enhancing our ability to wash their gear once it is contaminated is a tremendous benefit to the firefighters, their families, and the collective safety of our community.”

“We now know that the risk of occupational cancers is amongst the greatest threats faced by modern firefighters. Providing firefighters with new gear to wear and establishing regular and effective gear washing programs are two of the most valuable actions we can take to reduce future cancer diagnosis,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. “We are thankful that the Commonwealth has made this a priority and invested in the advancement of the ongoing cancer prevention efforts of fire departments across the state.

Funding for this grant program was made available through the Baker-Polito administration for fire departments across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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