$5.7 million obligated by FEMA for Fire Dept.

By John McPhaul

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has assigned nearly $5.7 million to the Puerto Rico Fire Department as part of the recovery efforts on the island as a result of Hurricane Maria. The funds include projects to replace fire trucks as well as for the repair of facilities that provide response services related to all types of emergencies.

The Fire Department has some 1,535 staff across 95 stations distributed in six fire zones. In addition to preventing, fighting and determining the causes of fires to protect life and property, the team handles emergency calls in disasters and provides guidance to the public through seminars and conferences.

“Our brave Fire Department men and women are part of our first line of defense in disasters,” said José Baquero Tirado, the federal disaster recovery coordinator for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “With these funds we are supporting our mission to help strengthen critical services on the island for the safety of all citizens.”

The awards include $542,000 for the Barceloneta station, which was recently inaugurated as repairs were completed. Of these funds, just over $17,000 went to measures to prevent similar damage in the future such as an anti-filtration treatment and strengthening the electrical system against power surges.

“The renovation took approximately eight months, in which the roof and other areas of the station were completely replaced,” said Capt. Manuel Medina Moya, head of the Barceloneta District of the Puerto Rico Fire Department. “As a result, we are now able to serve the citizens of Barceloneta.”

Meanwhile, just over $9,000 was obligated to the Training Academy located in the Jueyes neighborhood in Salinas. The educational center, comprising 160 students, will receive funds to repair classrooms, hazardous material simulators and training areas, among other repairs.

There both civilian and emergency response and brigade personnel receive the necessary training on the latest fire prevention and extinction techniques.

To date, FEMA has obligated over $19.2 billion for costs related to hurricanes Irma and Maria, including projects to help rebuild infrastructure throughout Puerto Rico. FEMA works with the commonwealth’s Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience through the federal agency’s Public Assistance program to obligate recovery funds to private nonprofit organizations, municipalities and agencies of the Puerto Rico government.

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