The chance Shawn Ramage took on a grant application has paid off.

The Chelsea fire chief has received word the Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation has funded his request for $10,000 to pay for turnout gear for four members of Chelsea’s Fire Department, more than doubling the amount of gear he can buy this year.

Generally, the department, which runs on a fairly lean budget, buys three sets of turnout gear — the outer protective layer firefighters wear — every year.

“We inspect (the gear) every year, and it needs to be replaced every 10 years,” he said.

In the time-honored tradition of hand-me-downs, gear gets passed along, if it’s in good shape.

Ramage said the department has some young, fairly new members and they will be able to be outfitted properly, he said.


Turnout gear is all the protective gear that firefighters wear, from the helmet and hood down to the boots. Ramage said coats and pants can cost nearly $2,000; a helmet, $300. It adds up.

“It’s part of my job to look out for grants,” he said. He has secured Assistance to Firefighters grants, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency; but this is the first time he’s applied to the King foundation.

“I knew about it a while ago, and decided: Why not?” he said. “I want to thank the foundation for allowing the fire departments to put in for grants. It helps small communities, really any community, with a project like this.”

The foundation, a private, nonprofit organization, was created in 1986. With a strong interest in literacy, community services and the arts, the foundation focuses its attention on community-based initiatives, particularly projects that will affect or serve most members of a community.

“The grants are very helpful,” said Scott Tilton, Chelsea’s town manager, adding that Ramage is effective in writing them.

If Chelsea had to rely on fundraising, this scale of purchase wouldn’t be possible.


“We get donations by selling house number signs at $15 apiece,” Tilton said. “We would never be able to do this without a grant.”

Ramage said some of the gear has been fitted already and should arrive within a couple of months. The turnout gear has an added benefit of coming from manufacturers in Maine.

“It’s good that we can keep these jobs around,” he said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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