(Hartford, CT) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-3) and Congressman Joe Courtney (D-2) announced today the award of three federal fire Operations and Safety Grants to improve fire safety and operations in Middletown, the Wauregan Fire District in Plainfield and Willington. The grant is part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program administered by FEMA.

The South Fire District of Middletown received $165,300 to provide expanded rescue core training certification for the district’s 30 firefighters, including specialized training for confined spaces and vehicle and machine technicians. The training will take place at the Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks.

The South Fire District greatly appreciates the support from our congressional delegation. If incidents arise within our district or in other departments that we assist with in mutual aide, we will be better prepared and trained for these types of emergencies,” said Acting Chief Steven Krol.

"This type of training is critical as firefighters are continually tasked with more demanding responsibilities. I'm pleased that the brave men and women of the South Fire Department will have access to this state of the art training,” said Middletown Mayor Dan Drew.

The Wauregan Fire District / Atwood Hose Fire Company received an AFG Operations and Safety grant in the amount of $73,150 that will allow the fire company to replace outdated self-contained breathing apparatuses over 20 years old with 14 new units built to the latest standards.  The department currently has only 10 in service.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant will allow the Atwood Hose Fire Company to purchase state of the art breathing apparatus to ensure our fire fighters are protected as they provide first responder services to the citizens of the Wauregan and Dyer Manor Fire Districts,” said Wauregan Fire District / Atwood Hose Fire Company Fire Chief Bob Duval.

This is great news to this small fire district. This additional revenue will go a long way to relieve a lot of pressure for this district,” said Plainfield First Selectman Paul Sweet.

The Willington Fire Department #1 received an AFG Operations and Safety grant in the amount of $49,400, which will allow for the installation of a vehicle exhaust system in the North Willington Station.

This grant will allow for the installation of a vehicle exhaust system in our North Willington Station. Once completed, this system will contribute to the overall safety of both the career and volunteer personnel by greatly reducing exhaust emissions within the station which have been proven to be a large contributing factor in the development of cancer in firefighters. We thank the delegation for this support and look forward to the installation of the system,” said Tyler F. Millix, Fire Chief Willington Fire Department Inc.

This grant will allow the Town of Willington to address a pressing safety concern and we are thankful for the support.” Willington First Selectman Christina Mailhos.

Connecticut has received fourteen federal grants this fiscal year to protect our firefighters and residents. Firefighters in Middletown, Plainfield, Willington and throughout the state put their lives on the line every day to protect ours, and they deserve the best training and equipment available. I will continue to advocate for Connecticut first responders to ensure that every firefighter has access to the training and life-saving equipment they need to protect themselves as they protect us,” Senator Blumenthal said.

These grants will provide critical support to help firefighters continue their lifesaving work safely and effectively. I’m proud to support the incredible work of our firefighters, who put their lives on the line to protect our communities day in and day out,” said Senator Murphy.

Last week’s events are a reminder that we need to ensure our first responders have the most up to date equipment and training to help keep them safe in such dangerous jobs,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “I am grateful that this funding will provide exactly that to the brave rescue workers and first responders who do the important work of keeping the Middletown community safe.

As we see consistently in fire emergencies, state-of-the-art equipment—whether breathing apparatuses or communications equipment—is absolutely essential to firefighters and their ability to respond effectively,” said Congressman Courtney. “These targeted investments will make our first responders safer, and will allow the departments to better serve the people of Wauregan, Willington, and the surrounding areas. The departments deserve a tremendous amount of credit for demonstrating need in a challenging funding environment.”

These are the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth federal firefighting grants awarded in Connecticut in Fiscal Year 2013. Middletown received $1.14 million to hire eight additional firefighters and Waterbury received $2.9 million to hire new fire recruits through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) and Assistance to Firefighters grant programs administered by FEMA. Seymour, Middletown, East Hartford, Shelton, Norwalk, Torrington, Southington and Waterbury also received grants to support operations and safety measures.