The Mendham Fire Department began in 1905 as a citizen bucket brigade with $517 in the bank.
This week, the volunteer company was awarded a $25,000 “Thank You” grant from Google Nest and The Leary Firefighters Foundation to fund new technology and continue its community-safety mission.
“We’re thrilled and incredibly grateful to Google Nest and The Leary Firefighters Foundation for this grant, and we believe it will greatly enhance our ability to better serve the greater Mendham community,” Mendham Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Orgera said. “We’ve been talking for a while about how we can bring more training directly into our department, and leverage newer technology and products to better equip our volunteers.”
Google Nest, which sells smart home products including smoke detectors and security systems, and The Leary Firefighters Foundation, founded by actor and activist Denis Leary, presented a similar award this week to the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department in suburban Baltimore, Maryland as part of its 2021 program.
The Mendham Fire Department — representing the combined forces of the former Mendham Hose and Mendham Independent Hook & Ladder companies — was recognized by the granters for operating the largest junior training program in Morris County, working with students ages 15-18 to train them for fire school.
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“Although the department receives funds from their local jurisdiction, they have been unable to keep up with the 10-20% increase in expenses per year,” the granters wrote. “During COVID-19, the department was unable to fundraise at their typical in-person events, leading to further gaps in their overall budget.”
“This grant enables us to not just upskill our own volunteers, but potentially other nearby departments as well,” Orgera said. “We’re anxious to put this new technology to work for our community.”
Leary, a comedian and actor who starred as a firefighter on his “Rescue Me” TV series for seven years, launched his foundation in 2000 after his cousin, a childhood friend, and four other firefighters died responding to a fire in his native Worcester, Massachusetts.
“Firefighters never go on strike,” Leary said. “As a result, they are often an easy target for government budget cuts. This is where The Leary Firefighters Foundation steps in. We help these heroes by building state-of-the-art training facilities, buying cutting-edge vehicles and supplying modern technology and tools to firehouses and departments across the country.”
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To date, the Google-Leary partnership has distributed more than $250,000 in technology to fire departments across the country at Thanksgiving time.
The Mendham Fire Department provides volunteer fire protection, rescue and fire-prevention education to more than 5,000 residents of the borough.
“For the past 116 years, the all-volunteer Mendham Fire Department has responded to every call and every alarm, diligently serving the residents of our and surrounding communities,” Mayor Christine Serrano Glassner said. “We’re grateful for this much-needed grant and recognition, and are confident it will help positively transform how our MFD serves the Mendham community and beyond.”
“The department remains eager to improve their training and technology,” the granters wrote. “Google is thankful for the department’s unwavering commitment to their service area.”
William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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