$101,907 grant will buy fire equipment

Published 5:00 am Friday, August 13, 2004

MONTICELLO – The Monticello Fire Department has received a$101,907 boost from the Department of Homeland Security to purchaseneeded equipment, a fire official said.

Wayne Harrison, the department’s fire chief, said the FireOperations and Firefighter Safety grant will cover 90 percent ofthe equipment purchases with the town funding the remaining 10percent of the total $113,230 project. The grant provides fundingfor training, equipment, personal protective equipment, wellnessand fitness, and modifications to fire stations and facilities.

“We’re going to buy 20 sets of turn out gear, all new air packs,some spare (oxygen) bottles and other much needed equipment,” hesaid.

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The project will supply each of the department’s firefighterswith new turn out gear, Harrison said. The old turn out gear wasoutdated and had not met the National Fire Safety Administration’smandates for nearly five years. Each suit costs approximately$1,300.

The government funding allows for four air packs and sparebottles per fire truck, the chief said, so they intend to purchase12 air packs and spare bottles to maximize that amount on each ofthe department’s three fire trucks.

The grant will also fund the purchase of a $34,000 aircompressor to fill oxygen bottles.

“We fill bottles for the whole county,” Harrison said. “We have(a compressor) now, but it’s about 19 years old and we’re havingtrouble with it.”

Two firefighters will also be attending the state fire academyin Jackson to receive fire instructor training under the grant, hesaid. There are presently no fire instructors in the county.

Harrison said two of the county’s three full-time firefighterswill be assigned to the training. When they return, they will bequalified to teach volunteer certification courses. The courseswill be open to volunteers in the surrounding area as well.

“The air compressor is very needed, as are the instructors,” hesaid. “When they come back they can certify the volunteers. We have20 volunteers now, but only nine are certified.”

The grant award comes in the eleventh round of announcements forthe 2004 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. GoodhopeVolunteer Fire Department near Bassfield and the town of Maben alsoreceived a grant this round.

The Third District has received more than $840,000 in the first10 rounds, according to Congressman Chip Pickering. About a dozenrounds remain this year. There were 425 applications fromMississippi filed for the 2004 program.

Last year, according to the congressman’s office, the ThirdDistrict received 60 grants totaling more than $3.1 million.

“The proper training and equipment is vital to the safety andmission of our firefighters,” Pickering said in a press release.”This grant will enable these first responders to more effectivelyprotect their communities. We are thankful for our first respondersbecause they answer the call of distress and risk their lives toprotect their neighbors. I commend their work and sacrifice, and Iam proud to announce resources to assist in their mission.”

Through the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Actof 2004, Congress provided $750 million for the Assistance toFirefighters Grant Program. The program assists rural, urban andsuburban fire departments, as well as emergency medical services,to increase the effectiveness of firefighting operations, improvefirefighter health and safety programs and to establish or expandfire prevention and safety programs.