New Milford fire company receives $10K grant for hazmat supplies

Water Witch Hose Co. #2 in New Milford was recently named one of two fire departments nationwide to receive a $10,000 grant through CHEMTREC.

Water Witch Hose Co. #2 in New Milford was recently named one of two fire departments nationwide to receive a $10,000 grant through CHEMTREC.

Deborah Rose / Hearst Connecticut Media

NEW MILFORD — Water Witch Hose Co. No. 2 has been honored with an award to enhance its hazmat response and preparedness.

The all-volunteer fire department was recently among two recipients to receive the 2020 CHEMTREC and National Volunteer Fire Council HELP Award. It comes with a $10,000 grant.

“It’s very exciting to be able to get a grant, especially a large dollar amount like this, to buy supplies and some other rescue equipment related to hazmat,” Water Witch Fire Chief Rich Squires said.

CHEMTREC, the world’s leading source of 24/7 call center support and information during hazardous materials incidents, partners with the NVFC annually to award grants to two U.S. fire departments that are also members of the NVFC.

“The awards are intended to enhance their capabilities and increase local preparedness to respond to and prepare for hazardous materials incidents,” according to CHEMTREC.

More than 130 organizations applied for the grants nationwide.

The other recipient was New Johnson Fire Department in New Johnsonville, Tenn.

Squires said the grant application and award “came together pretty quick,” noting it was two or three months ago the application got rolling.

Water Witch acquired a Decon trailer after 9/11. Over the years, the supplies in it have expired and become brittle.

The grant will be used to buy several items. Among them, basic Decon suits and Speedy Dry used to soak up hazardous spills and leaks.

Speedy Dry is used frequently for motor vehicle accidents, the fire chief said. For example, last year, a trailer truck hit a manhole cover near Litchfield Crossings on Route 7 and didn’t realize diesel was being leaked until the truck reached Lore’s Plaza farther north on Route 7.

Even small motor vehicle accidents, that include radiator fluid or oil leaks, require Speedy Dry.

Squires said the department is also exploring the purchase of a special resting tripod to aid in rescues in confined spaces, such as a sewer plant with a one-way entrance/exit.

To be eligible for the award, applicants must be all-volunteer or have more than 50 percent volunteers; serve a population of 25,000 or less; have an annual revenue that does not exceed $250,000 for the most recently completed fiscal year; be located in the U.S.; use the funds solely for the purpose of improving its hazmat capabilities; and accept a visit from CHEMTREC and the NVFC for the presentation of the award.

Applicants had to submit an essay demonstrating its need to receive the $10,000 award and how the money would be used.

The fire department has received other grants in the recent past.

Among them, in 2017, it received a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant for $45,455 for an air refill compressor system. The following year, it received a FEMA grant for a new ladder truck, which arrived last fall.