The Skowhegan Fire Department will get new extrication equipment funded by a $57,300 grant awarded Wednesday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The grant was announced in a news release from U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Rep Bruce Poliquin.

Skowhegan Fire Chief Shawn Howard said the money will be used to purchase equipment such as metal cutters used to extricate people in serious car accidents. The new equipment will replace aging tools that the department has had since the 1980s, Howard said.

“It’s an efficiency thing. They’ve made so many advances in the metals and the materials used in today’s automobiles that some of the older extraction equipment actually cannot cut the metals they use. It takes much more force today, so the tools need to be stronger and provide more cutting force,” Howard said. “We strive to maintain our tools so they are always in working order, but there’s always a concern when equipment is 30 years old.”

The department will purchase new equipment through a competitive bid process and will submit the bill to FEMA, Howard said. He said the new equipment should be in place within 12 months.

The grant was awarded through FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, which was created to help provide funds for fire departments and emergency response teams to purchase equipment, protective gear and other resources, according to the release. FEMA is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.


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