In late 2019, the Norwich Fire Department (CT) was awarded a grant from the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation for personal safety systems (PSS) and related training. This grant, in the amount of $12,000, was provided by the Foundation in partnership with the Bird’s Eye View Project. Grant funding will provide 24 department members with PSS and training they need to escape if there are no other ways out.

“The need for personal safety rope systems (PSS) was brought to the forefront for the Norwich Fire Department in November of 2008 when the department responded to a fire in an occupied multiple family dwelling. Advanced fire conditions were present on arrival. One captain and one firefighter became lost and disoriented while conducting a search on the third floor,” recalls Firefighter Christopher Paige. “While the trapped members waited for a ladder to be thrown, they had depleted their air supply. As the tip of the ladder met the building, the first firefighter began a headfirst descent over the ladder. As he was pushed out the window by worsening conditions, he lost his grip on the ladder and fell three stories to the concrete below. While the captain was waiting for the firefighter to exit over the ladder, he then consumed the last breath of his air in his cylinder. In an attempt to survive and escape, he removed his facepiece at the window. He was immediately overcome with smoke and passed out at the sill before he was removed by members assisting from outside.”

Over the last six years, the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation grant program has awarded over $472,000 to departments in need. Established in Joey’s memory in 2013, the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation holds firefighter training events that support its grant program. It also relies on the generous support of our sponsors and partners to help train and equip firefighters.
In 2005, Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo, known to his friends and colleagues as “Joey D,” was critically injured in a Bronx apartment fire where two firefighters perished and three others were also badly injured. A personal safety rope system, carried by fellow Rescue 3 Firefighter Jeff Cool, helped both Joey and Jeff to escape the flames by lowering themselves as far as they could from the four-story jump. After the incident, Joey traveled around the country training firefighters and sharing his story to help other firefighters. His foundation will continue this work, helping firefighters in the United States and Canada.

“Thanks to everyone who has supported the Foundation and its mission to keep firefighters safe. Together we carry on Joey’s legacy and work to prevent other tragedies from occurring. We’re grateful to all of our grant partners, sponsors, and donors for their generosity,” says Chief Joe DiBernardo, Foundation President and Joey’s father.

The Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation will continue to train firefighters and provide grants to departments to ensure the safety of firefighters across the United States and Canada. To learn more about the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation’s grant program for personal life safety rope systems or to apply visit: www.joeydfoundation.org/about-the-foundation/grants.