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Heuck’s Retreat VFD gets fire assistance grant

Heuck’s Retreat Volunteer Fire Department was one of twovolunteer departments in the state to receive federal funds in theearly rounds of firefighter grant assistance, congressmen saidWednesday.

Heuck’s Retreat VFD will receive $60,480 from the 2004Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, said Third District U.S.Rep. Chip Pickering. Southwest Covington VFD received $53,933.

“This is exciting, and we have big plans for that money,” saidHeuck’s Retreat VFD Chief Jim Craig. “We’ve put in for this grantfor three years, and this is the first year we’ve beenaccepted.”

The grant requires a 10 percent match from the department, Craigsaid.

The money will be used to achieve several goals, he said. Mostimportantly, it will allow them to equip the new 3,000 gallon ClassA pumper they received in December through the state Rural FireTruck Acquisition Fund.

“The problem was we got the truck, but couldn’t afford theequipment to go on it,” Craig said.

The new grant will fund the purchase of six air packs, turnoutgear and other necessary supplies, he said.

Each air pack costs an average of $3,000 with a spare cylinderand are used when entering a burning structure. Six air packs willgive the department an entry and standby team, Craig said.

The grant will also be used to purchase new fire hoses. Thedepartment’s three fire trucks each carry about 3,500 feet of hose,he said. Heuck’s Retreat currently needs about 5,000 feet of hoseto replace worn lines at a cost of approximately $150 per 50 feetof hose, plus new nozzles.

“We have a number of houses and trailers in our community thatare more than 150 feet from the road, where we can’t get the truckto them. We have to have enough hose to get there,” he said.

Craig said the equipment purchases will help the department asthey pursue a lower fire rating for their district. Fire ratingsare based on three major criteria, he said, includingcommunications, manpower and equipment and water systemcapabilities.

“I believe this will help us in that,” he said. “A lot of thisgrant is helping us to address the equipment portion of thoserequirements.”

Further enhancing their quest for a lower fire rating, Craigsaid, was the receipt of a free 5,000 military tanker from thegovernment surplus program in mid-January. The addition of thetanker will give the department the resources to bring 13,000gallons of water to a fire.

The truck is in the process of being painted to the department’scolors and he said that project should be completed by the end ofthe month.

Pickering said the Heuck’s Retreat and Southwest Covington VFDgrants are only the first of several that will be awarded.

The third district received more than $3.1 million from 60Department of Homeland Security fire grants during the 2003program, he said.

Congress has appropriated $750 million for the national 2004Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. This program assistsrural, urban and suburban fire departments to increase theeffectiveness of their operations, improve firefighter health andsafety programs and to establish or expand fire prevention andsafety programs. There are 425 Mississippi applications on fileseeking a portion of the 2004 funding.