Friday the 13th may signify the classic bad luck day of the superstitious, but it’s about to symbolize about half a million dollars worth of good fortune for the Middletown Township Fire Department.
At 3 p.m. on Friday, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-6) will deliver good news in person that officials already know: the fire department will receive $465,320 in federal funds to upgrade to current standards its communications equipment.
Meeting with Middletown Township Fire Department Chief Andy Spears, Mayor Tony Fiore and other officials and community leaders at the department’s Navesink Hook & Ladder Fire Co., Pallone plans to talk fire safety and tour the 175-year-old fire station on Monmouth Avenue.
"When dealing with public safety issues, having modernized communications equipment can mean the difference between life and death," Pallone said in a released statement.
What is dubbed the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG), administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will put enough money in the fire department’s coffers for the purchase of radios and associated communications network equipment to replace what has been rendered inefficient and outdated by stiffer Federal Communications Commission (FCC) standards.
Middletown has been touted as having the largest all-volunteer fire department in the nation. The department consists of 11 fire companies spread out over the township’s 42 square miles. Its near 500 active members protect the township’s 68,000 residents and businesses in roughly a dozen neighborhoods, or hamlets.
"This funding will make a difference locally by making it safer for firefighters and first responders to do their jobs and save lives," Pallone added.