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Nags Head Fire and Rescue receives federal grant to replace critical firefighter safety gear

The Town of Nags Head’s Fire and Rescue Department has received a sizable federal grant to replace critical firefighter safety gear.

The $290,466 grant, requiring a 5% match of $14,524 from the Town of Nags Head, will allow the Fire and Rescue Department to replace its aging stock of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which provide breathable air in situations where toxic fumes may be present.

Awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program, the primary goal of the grant is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters with respect to fire-related hazards by providing direct financial assistance to eligible fire departments, nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Services organizations and State Fire Training Academies.

Each grant application undergoes multiple reviews and scoring by teams of volunteers from the fire service from organizations all over the country.

“Protecting firefighters from the occupational exposures they face is critical” said Nags Head Fire Chief Randy Wells. “These new packs will protect the firefighters from the many toxic fumes they encounter at fire scenes. Exposure to these toxins is immediately dangerous to their health and, in the long term, it has also been shown to be a leading cause of lung disease and cancer in firefighters.”

According to the CDC/National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), firefighters have a nine percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population.

Chief Wells further explained, “This generous grant wouldn’t be possible without support from Nags Head’s Board of Commissioners who understand how important it is to protect their employee’s health on-the-job.”

“The safety of our employees has always been of paramount importance to our board, so we were happy to fully back this grant submission,” said Mayor Ben Cahoon. “The support we received from our state and federal legislators during the application process and the amount of the award from FEMA speaks volumes regarding the importance of reducing firefighter occupational exposures.

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