Provided/Ventnor firefighters battle a blaze in Ventnor Heights.

VENTNOR – Every member of the Ventnor City Fire Department will be getting new personal escape harnesses courtesy of a $25,472 grant from the Joey D Foundation.

According to Fire Chief Michael Cahill, the department has been informed of the grant award by the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation, which provides grants to fire departments in need of personal safety rope systems.

DiBernardo was a member of the Fire Department of New York who died in 2011 from injuries sustained in a January 2005 tenement fire in the Bronx. The fire claimed the lives of three other firefighters when they fell five stories after they were forced to leap from the inferno. That day has become known as “Black Sunday.” Before he died, DiBernardo and other survivors initiated a campaign to issue safety ropes for all FDNY firefighters. In 2013, the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation, also known as the Joey D Foundation, was started to help train and equip firefighters in need.

The grant will fund the purchase of 45 personal escape harnesses. Firefighters will be trained on proper usage at the Pleasantville Fire Department’s main station, which has a bail out training simulator.

The grant will be awarded in November at a DiBernardo training seminar to be held in New York City, Cahill said.

The Ventnor Fire Department will also receive new air packs, masks and safety gear starting in November through a collaborative FEMA grant with Atlantic City and Margate. The grant will ensure that all Absecon Island firefighters are equipped with the same equipment which will make it safer to fight fighters. The grant will provide as much as $255,000 for Ventnor to purchase the equipment, Cahill said.

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.