OLD ORCHARD BEACH– Old Orchard Beach Fire Chief Fred LaMontagne is pleased to announce that the Old Orchard Beach Fire Department has been awarded an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support firefighter health and wellness.
The approximately $47,000 grant will fund department initiatives to promote firefighter physical fitness, including the purchase of commercial physical fitness equipment. The department is also actively seeking opportunities for remote educational programming on the benefits of nutrition, sleep and wellness for staff.
“In recent years, fire departments around the country have begun to realize and work to combat the occupational health risks firefighters face while on the job, often taking a toll even after they have completed their careers,” Chief LaMontagne said. “We are appreciative that FEMA has recognized these needs and supports us in making improvements to firefighter wellness through this grant program.”
Occupational cancer and heart disease are two leading causes of firefighter deaths nationally. The grant funds are intended to reduce firefighters’ risk of developing these and other deadly occupational diseases, as well as improve overall physical health.
“Firefighter suicide and post-traumatic stress rates are increasing, and firefighter obesity rates are currently higher than the average population,” said Deputy Fire Chief Robert Slaving “The Old Orchard Beach Fire Department is dedicated to supporting a workforce that is healthy, well and resilient.”
Round One of the FY 2019 Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) was awarded on Friday, July 31. Nationwide 392 awards were received from a total federal share of approximately $59 million.
The grant was authored and submitted by Slaving, with support from IAFF Local 2247 Union President and firefighter/paramedic Mike Baker, Finance Director Diana Asanza and firefighter/paramedic Damion Taylor.