EAST ORANGE, NJ — With the month of October being observed as Fire Prevention Month, the East Orange Fire Department announced that it has been awarded nearly $400,000 in federal and private grants to increase health and safety measures for residents and firefighters, including launching the city’s first hearing impaired smoke alarm campaign.
East Orange Mayor Ted Green was on hand for the announcement, which was made Thursday, Oct. 24, at Firehouse No. 2 in East Orange.
“We’re celebrating Fire Prevention Month here,” Green told the Record-Transcript after the event. “Today, we had a few demonstrations of some alarm systems that we’re going to be providing for the hearing impaired here in the city of East Orange. We’ll be one of the first cities in the state to really have this type of alarm to really help our hearing impaired, to be aware if there’s a fire in the house or in the apartment and we’re very happy about it.”
The grant monies will go toward purchasing necessary equipment for firefighters. Describing the technology the department uses, Green said firefighters are benefited by an apparatus that indicates when their oxygen is running low and tells them how much oxygen is left. There is also technology that can locate firefighters in a fire, which is useful in case of injury.
“We’re very happy to really get the money from our state and the federal, over $400,000 in grant money, for this public safety,” Green said.
He added that the equipment bought with grants is vital “to not only safeguard our citizens, but also safeguard our firefighters who really work hard, each and every day, to really keep us safe when there’s a fire here in the city of East Orange.”
Chief Andre Williams, of the East Orange Fire Department, said the grants came from different sources, including the Assistance to Firefighters Grant, the Fire Prevention and Safety Grant, and the Leary Firefighters Foundation.
In addition to grants, Williams said the city also has made significant investments to upgrade equipment and take advantage of technological advances in firefighting.
“We are currently updating our equipment with state-of-the-art models, including self-contained breathing apparatus, which is essential to the health and safety of our firefighters. This specialized personal protective equipment is necessary for firefighters to enter any atmosphere that is deemed immediately dangerous to life or health,” Williams said in a quote provided to the Record-Transcript.
“The event was wonderful,” Williams said of the press conference. “It was a time to see the community come out and support our Fire Department, as they always do. The mayor and the City Council have done an excellent job in providing support for us and giving us the things that we need to do our jobs.”
At the event, community members were able to watch demonstrations of firefighters breaking down doors and also take tours of the city’s new firefighter safety trailer to see advances the EOFD is making.
Deputy Chief Walter Cosby discussed the various community partners who contribute to the EOFD’s success.
“Numerous things happened today,” Cosby told the Record-Transcript after the event concluded. “We got grants, purchases of washers and dryers for our equipment. We obtained that through funding from the city of East Orange, the mayor and City Council, which has a lot to do with our self-contained breathing apparatus. We also got grants for … the safety trailer … and grants also for the smoke detectors for the hearing impaired. So, there were a variety of things that East Orange fire division has made progression throughout the years under Chief Williams. I’m just happy to be apart of it.
“Today’s event was wonderful,” Cosby continued. “I was happy to see a lot of people come out. I wish we could’ve seen more citizens but other than that, the event was great. It was phenomenal. People were able to learn and understand what the fire division is all about, some of our tools and equipment that we use on a day-to-day basis, and also just becoming aware of what we go through every day, dealing with carcinogens and so on.”
At the press conference, council Chairman Christopher James emphasized the risk firefighters take to save lives in the community.
“Public safety is an integral part of the quality of life in East Orange and any city in this country, state and nation. When there’s a fire, people run out, and fire personnel run in,” he said. “The grants announced today, especially those awarded by Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Leary Foundation and others, provide the funds for the East Orange Fire Department and East Orange residents.
“I want to thank Sens. Booker and Menendez, and Sen. Gill, Assemblywoman Timberlake and Assemblyman Giblin and Congressman Payne for their support of East Orange. Congratulations Chief Andre Williams and the entire staff for making our Fire Services Department a model department in service to its employees and the community.”
Photos by EmilyAnn Jackman