April 09, 2021

Senator Hassan Visits Berlin Fire Station to Discuss Relief She Helped Secure in the American Rescue Plan to Support Fire Fighters Across New Hampshire

Senator Hassan Also Visits Bisson's Sugar House to Celebrate their 100th Anniversary

Senator Hassan visits the Berlin Fire Station (left) and Bisson’s Sugar House (right). 

BERLIN – In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan met with fire fighters at the Berlin Fire Station this week to discuss the additional relief that the Senator helped secure in the American Rescue Plan to support fire stations in New Hampshire. Senator Hassan led efforts to include $300 million in the American Rescue Plan for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant programs that provide resources to fire stations across the country to help with hiring, retention, and critical supplies. Additionally, as a result of a FEMA grant that the Senator joined in announcing last year, the Berlin Fire Department recently received new breathing apparatuses, which they began using this week. 


The Senator also visited Bisson's Sugar House to celebrate their 100th anniversary. The Senator surprised the family-run business with a framed copy of a statement that the Senator submitted to the official Congressional Record recognizing the business for this incredible achievement. You can view the official statement here.


See below for coverage highlights in the Berlin Sun:


Berlin Sun: Hassan gets a sweet treat and meets with firefighters in Berlin Tuesday

By Paul Robitaille


[…] U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan met with the Blais family of Bisson’s Sugar house and members of the Berlin Fire Department.


Hassan (D-N.H.) surprised Lucien and Muriel Blais with a framed copy of the March 17 Congressional record recognizing the Bisson’s Sugar house on its 100th anniversary.


Mayor Paul Grenier joined Hassan to mark the occasion.


The Blaises gave the senator a tour of the sugar house and gave her some maple sugar taffy and a copy of the history of the Bisson’s Sugar house.


Hassan purchased a gallon of the maple syrup produced in Berlin to take back with her to Washington. Hassan remarked that years before she had acquired the habit of using maple syrup in her coffee instead of cane sugar.


“No one on Capitol Hill has good New Hampshire maple syrup,” she said.


[...] Hassan then met with Berlin firefighters at the fire station. Hassan discussed with Chief James Watkins and firefighters the American Rescue Act and its potential benefits to emergency personnel and infrastructure. Watkins spoke about the department’s application for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant for a new fire engine grant.


“Last time we missed it by a tenth of a point. The reason we lost out was because other senators questioned the need for a four-wheel drive truck. We need to emphasize the steepness of the hills in Berlin and sometimes we are dealing with snow and ice while responding to calls before public works has had time to get out and plow,” Watkins told Hassan. “If we can get the grant for the fire engine that may free up money to purchase a new ladder truck, which we need to replace,” he added.


 Hassan said she wrote a letter of support for the last grant and both she and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen will do so again this time.


“Hopefully, we can pull you over the ten percent,” she said. “I will remind them that hills in Berlin are still steep and weather still happens.”


Berlin Firefighters showed Hassan the new breathing apparatus that the city had just purchased with the $169,932 federal Assistance For Firefighters Grant the department received. The city had to contribute $8,300.


Hassan said she often supports grant to purchase equipment but seldom gets to see the result. Assistant Chief Peter Donovan said the new masks are lighter and come with individual masks.


“We don’t have to share face masks now,” he said.


Hassan also spoke about the Staffing for Adequate Emergency Response grant that would allow departments to hire more staffing at full salaries.


Hassan asked about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affected emergency services in Berlin. Watkins said that when it first hit, they had a firefighter test positive. The chief said he had to send everyone home and kept the crew then on duty at the station from Friday until Tuesday until testing could determine who was positive and who was not. Then normal shifts resumed.


“We’ve been very careful since and we think we have weathered the worst,” added one of the firefighters.


[...] “We will get through this eventually,” Hassan said.