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Copiah, Walthall get fire grants

Fire departments in Crystal Springs and Walthall County arebenefiting from the 19th round of allocations for the 2004Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

Enon Volunteer Fire Department in northern Walthall County, nearthe Lawrence County line, received a grant of $73,461 to purchase afour-wheel drive brush truck to assist in grass fires.

“We fight 30 to 40 grass fires a year. A majority of those wecan’t get to because our vehicles are so heavy,” said Chad McEwen,the department’s emergency services director and grant coordinator.”We believe this will help us on about one-third of our calls. Wewon’t have to lean on (the Mississippi Forestry Commission) asmuch.”

The truck will also include a compressed air foam system thatcan be used in vehicle fires and hazardous material situations,McEwen said.

The grant is Enon VFD’s third of the year. McEwen estimated thetotal of the three grants at around $175,000.

The first grant received by the department early this yearawarded them approximately $40,000 for self-contained breathingapparatuses, an air compressor to fill oxygen tanks and turnoutgear, he said.

A second grant for approximately $65,000 received later in theyear is helping the department renovate and remodel its trainingcenter.

“We’re still working on that one,” McEwen said. “We haven’tbought half our (training) equipment yet.”

The Crystal Springs Fire Company, Inc. was awarded a $15,660grant for operations and firefighter safety. Those funds can beused for training, equipment, personal protective equipment andmodifications for fire stations and facilities.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is overseen by theDepartment of Homeland Security. The latest round, the 19th thisyear, provided $89,537,436 in 1,087 grants awarded to firedepartments throughout the United States, including 29 grants inthe U.S. Congress Third District totaling more than $1.8million.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said the program serves avital role in preparing the nation for disasters and othercrises.

“President Bush and I strongly support the critical mission ofour nation’s firefighters. Through these funds, we will ensure thatour nation’s emergency responders have the equipment and trainingthey need to respond to all hazards,” he said in a preparedstatement.