Grant aids safety

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Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently announced the Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP) received $365,260 through the Department of Homeland Security’s 2016 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program.

The funds will be used to buy replacement Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), commonly referred to as “turnout gear,” for instructors, and a mobile hazardous materials training simulator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM). The hazardous materials training simulator will primarily be used by VDEM to provide Virginia’s first responders with important refresher training.

The trailer-mounted unit will simulate a variety of hazardous materials scenarios, such as low and high pressure leak control and highway container repair. The simulator also will mimic highway accident situations that will be used to identify deficiencies in job task functions, provide tools for responder remediation, and opportunities to demonstrate competency while using equipment designed for the training environment. The unit will also provide opportunities for both defensive and offensive operations training, and will create consistent environments to measure job performance.

“Our first responders and emergency management personnel deserve the best equipment and training practices available,” McAuliffe said. “This funding will help protect our first responders from the various hazards they face on duty, while also establishing the highest quality of service for our citizens.”

VDFP also obtained funding during the 2015 AFG grant cycle, which was used to initiate a three-year plan to replace outdated turnout gear.  The total funding amount VDFP has received from the past two grant cycles comes to $584,640.

“VDEM is committed to working with emergency responders around the Commonwealth to provide the best possible all-hazards training and safety equipment they need to do their jobs,” said Dr. Jeff Stern, state coordinator for emergency management. “This grant will allow Virginia to equip first responders with additional turnout gear and will enhance our ability to train these brave men and women to handle various emergency events they might face as they work to protect all Virginians.”

Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran said “the safety of residents across the Commonwealth remains our number one priority. This grant will help provide the necessary tools for our first responder community to uphold our commitment. Securing this funding also demonstrates the benefits of collaboration amongst our public safety agencies.”

VDFP Executive Director Melvin Carter said, “Our agency’s grant writers were instrumental in obtaining this funding. The grant award directly supports Fire Program’s mission and is critical to ensuring Virginia’s first responders are receiving the latest innovations in emergency response training. It was also an opportunity to collaborate with VDEM and provide them with the needed training simulator.”