WESTPORT — The town fire department was recently granted federal funding to outfit its firefighters with additional life-saving equipment, officials said.
The fire department got the official word on Friday that it was awarded $28,814 in federal funding to purchase personal escape systems for all fire personnel.
A personal escape system is essential gear for a firefighter that consists of an anchoring hook, a descent device, life safety rope or webbing, a carabiner and a storage or deployment bag, said Assistant Fire Chief Brian Meadows.
“These equipment purchased with this grant will provide our firefighters with a rapid and effective means of egress should they become trapped by fire and need to bail out of a window,” Meadows said.
He said countless firefighters have died from jumping out a window without a personal escape system.
But the system serves a dual purpose; it can also be used to lower a victim to safety.
“For the last 20 years, our firefighters were issued a length of rope and a carabiner for this purpose which has proven an unrealistic option during an emergency,” Meadows said.
Over the course of two years, a group of firefighters in town wore and evaluated various systems from different manufacturers to choose the best option for the department. Once a decision was made, the department reached funding options and applied for the 2017 Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant.
Some of the grant money will be used to provide training to firefighters on the personal escape systems over the next few months, Meadows said.