The Ocean Township (Monmouth County) Fire District Number 2 has been awarded a $67,938 grant from the Department of Homeland Security through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, Jersey Shore Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-4) announced.

“The grant will be used by the Fire District to purchase a new set of hydraulic rescue tools to help extricate victims of serious car crashes, and is among the most important tools the first responders bring to motor vehicle accidents and entrapments,” Smith said. “The grant covers roughly 95 percent of the cost to replace the Department’s very outdated ‘Jaws of Life,’ which they’ve had in operation since the 1970s.”

“It is well needed,” Earl Gifford, Fire Commissioner and Treasurer of Fire District No. 2 said.  “It’s one of the first units Hurst made. And while it’s good, it doesn’t fit the needs of our manpower today.”

“History was made when the first set of ‘Jaws of Life’ was commercially available in 1971. Originally designed for car racing applications, they took a few years to be accepted by fire departments," Commissioner Gifford said. "Just seven years after they were commercially available, in 1978 we bought the set that is still in service on our rescue truck. They are ready to be retired and belong in a museum, not on our rescue truck.”

A long-time member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, Smith helped create the AFG grant program in 2000 which to date has helped firefighters and emergency responders get what they need in terms of equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources.

“This is exactly the type of emergency response and protection equipment the AFG program was created for," Smith said. "The purpose of AFG is to award grants directly to fire departments and non-affiliated Emergency Medical Services organizations (EMS) to protect both the health and safety of the public and first-responder personnel as well. Protecting the first responders who protect our communities, neighborhoods, residents and businesses is of utmost importance.”

The Ocean Township Department plans to purchase three new rams, a spreader, standalone gas powered unit, vehicle mounted electric power unit, wedge lifting bag, and multiple air bags for a total cost of $70,834.00.

To learn more about the AFG Program visit https://www.fema.gov/welcome-assistance-firefighters-grant-program.

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