Two county fire departments get financial help

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 30, 2002

Two local fire departments will receive what each called "badly needed" financial assistance to purchase new equipment and gear.

U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) recently announced that the Upper Township Volunteer Fire Department

will receive $50,117 and the Chesapeake-Union Township Volunteer Fire Department will receive $118,650 through the Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement Act. In 2000, DeWine authored and helped pass the bill that appropriated these funds for the 2002 fiscal year. The funds are issued to needy departments for training, general operations, safety and to enhance emergency medical services.

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"I am pleased that (these departments) will receive these funds," Senator DeWine said in a written release.

"I worked to ensure that this legislation was passed into law and it is my hope that these funds will allow our local fire departments to better meet their needs and continue to protect our communities."

Both departments will purchase new gear such as coats, helmets, boots, hoses, new air supply and self-contained breathing apparatus.

"These grants are a great boost for our department," Chief Paul Krum of the Upper Township Fire Department said. "It is very helpful, especially for a low-budget department like ours. Every dollar counts."

Krum said that although they applied for twice as much as was received, the new equipment would still be a 110 percent increase in terms of the safety of the firefighters.

Assistant Chief Ed Webb of the Chesapeake -- Union Township Volunteer Fire Department was equally excited about the financial assistance.

Webb said that one air pack can cost as much as $2,500 and to outfit one firefighter with equipment and air it often costs more than $12,000.

"It is a real nice Christmas gift," he said. "The nice thing about this is that we will not burden any residents. Because it is all provided by the government, it will not be taxing the people we serve."

Because Chesapeake was awarded more funds,

they will use the additional monies to purchase a thermal imaging device that will help the firefighters pinpoint blazes or find people within smoke-filled structures. All of the new equipment will benefit neighboring departments because Chesapeake will be able to provide better mutual aid, Webb said.

"We will have some top of the line fire fighting equipment," he said. "Every penny will be well-used."

The Federal Emergency Management Administration, will distribute more than $360 million in grants this year through the FIRE Act.

Approximately 19,500 fire departments applied for funding through the program and FEMA will award more than 5,500 grants.

Fire prevention is a focus of FEMA because, according to their statistics, fires are responsible for killing more Americans than all natural disasters combined.

Each year, more than 47,000 children under the age of 14 are injured by house fires.