Grant will help cut fire, police response time

  • Athol Fire Chief Joseph Guarnera For the Recorder/Greg Vine

  • Athol Fire Chief Joseph Guarnera outside the Fire Station. For the Recorder/Greg Vine

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 9/14/2020 1:59:40 PM
Modified: 9/14/2020 1:59:37 PM

ATHOL — It may not be the biggest of three grants the Athol Fire Department has received in recent weeks, but it will go a long way toward helping firefighters and police respond to calls as quickly as possible.

“I just got an AARP grant for $5,000,” Chief Joseph Guarnera announced Wednesday. “It’s not a matching grant, so we get 100 percent of it without the town having to provide any funding.

“It’s going to be used to put numbers on the homes of seniors whose homes currently are without numbers.”

Guarnera said the lack of numbering on homes raises several issues.

“Yes, it is a problem,” he said. “Problems that we’re having, sometimes there are two numbers for one home, depending on whether the home is located on a corner. And a lot of times when we respond, we find there’s no numbers on the home at all.

“So, that’s a problem, and we’re trying to assist the elderly, especially, in case there’s a medical reason or whatever it may be that we have to respond to. We need to be able to get to their home without a problem.”

Guarnera noted that Athol has a town bylaw that requires homes to be numbered.

“There’s actually a specification of how big the numbers are supposed to be,” he added.

The chief said the grant will cover the cost of purchasing the numbers, as well as mounting the numbers on the mailbox or the home itself.

“We do have a committee — with a police officer and a fire captain — that’s going to be doing all the research regarding which homes need numbers. We’ll be working with Cathy Savoy from the Council on Aging to get numbers from her, if she knows of any.

“But we’ll do the best we can with what we have and try to find as many homes as possible that we can apply numbers to.”

Guarnera also said the cash from the grant is already in the bank.

“I was told this morning at a department head meeting that the money has already been deposited. Now we have to start from our end finding out how many houses and how many locations do not have numbers so we can start ordering the number and proceed from there.”

Chief Guarnera and Police Chief Craig Lundgren went before the Selecboard last year to discuss the problem of homes with no — or incorrect — numbers. The problem can result in a significantly longer response time, putting both lives and property at risk.

In addition to the AARP grant, in the past several weeks the Fire Department has received a $16,000 FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) grant to secure new protective equipment for firefighter/EMTS, as well as a FEMA AFG (Assistance to Firefighters Grant) in the amount of $621,000 for the purchase of a new pumper truck, and to pay for training on the new apparatus.

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