Federal lawmakers joined with state and local officials on Sunday afternoon at the headquarters to mark the distribution of more than $141,000 in public safety grants for Braintree and Quincy.
The $72,847 in funding for Braintree, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will help upgrade a heavy-duty rescue truck that is used regionally for incidents like train crashes and has been out of service for several months. Quincy will use its $68,800 grant to replace a force-able entry tool and 60 air bottles.
"The rubber hits the road at the local service level, but we couldn't do it without our state and federal partners," Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch said.
Two of those federal partners who appeared on Sunday were Sen. Scott Brown and Rep. Stephen Lynch, both of whom spoke about the importance of working with communities to identify their most striking needs and help them find federal assistance, especially during the recent economic downturn.
Lynch said that budgets are so tight that even $60,000 or $80,000 can be vital. Using that amount of money from the federal government on supplies, for instance, can help free up money for a firefighter.
"There's a real partnership and a friendship," Lynch said. "We would not be here today if it weren't for [Quincy] Chief Barron and [Braintree] Chief Murphy and their grant writers."
George Gorman and Theresa Montani worked on this grant, Murphy said, and have filed for many others as well. The department originally requested $140,000, the chief said. The final amount will replace heavy duty airbags, a cutter and a front winch, along with lighting equipment.
"It's not quite everything we want, but it will get it back in service," Murphy said.
He added that he would like to see the department receive more money for training so that Braintree firefighters can bring the heavy rescue truck to other communities to demonstrate its capabilities. The truck was provided by money from the MBTA in 1998, Murphy said, and is available for incidents in any MBTA cities and towns. Montani said that the upgrades through the $72,000 grant should last the rest of the vehicle's lifetime.
Massachusetts competes at a high level when it comes to federal grants, Brown said, because the caliber of public safety training sets the state apart. There is also a more significant number of tech-savvy public employees and greater access to high-speed Internet than some parts of the country, Lynch said, making it easier to apply for grants.
"It's important to me because you're providing additional resources that are badly needed in this tight fiscal time," Brown said.
Mayor Joseph Sullivan praised the "courageous and professional" firefighters in both departments, and also Brown for being "someone who gets it." He and Sullivan previously served in the Massachusetts legislature, as did Lynch.
"Many communities are struggling in terms of finances," Sullivan said, "and I'm proud to say we're focused on public safety in Braintree."