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Loyd Star VFD approved for equipment grant

Loyd Star Volunteer Fire Department will soon be suiting up intop-of-the-line equipment after obtaining an Assistance toFirefighters Grant that is one of the highest in the state.

U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker recently announced that12 additional fire departments in Mississippi have been awardedgrants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to helppurchase new equipment and vehicles. The funding, awarded as partof the AFG program, totals $999,315.

“The equipment and improvements funded with these grants willhelp make these fire departments better prepared for emergencysituations. This is good news for those who rely on thesedepartments for their public safety,” said Cochran, a member of theSenate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

So far, Loyd Star’s grant is the second-highest in the stateissued for equipment, even topping some that have been issued forfire trucks.

Of the total amount, $44,000 goes toward equipment and $106,170goes toward turnout gear. The highest equipment grant issued in thestate is $171,000, awarded to Blackland Volunteer Fire Departmentin Booneville.

When a department is awarded a grant, they are required to takequotes from at least two vendors.

“We’re just tickled to death that we got this grant,” said LoydStar Chief Mark Porter. “We’ve had our two quotes from vendors, andthe next step is to get someone back out here and order our newequipment.”

Other departments in the county and in neighboring counties haveput in for grants this year as well, said grant writer Jared Evans,who wrote close to 20 grants for fire departments in the state thisyear. In past years, there have been more than 30 rounds of grantawards, and Loyd Star’s was awarded in the most recent – RoundFour.

“You just have to know what you’re talking about and make sureyou hit different important points when you’re writing thesegrants,” he said.

Many volunteer departments in Mississippi are still operatingwith old and faulty equipment, as most departments run offdonations, millage money and state rebate funds. Wicker pointed outthat most of Mississippi’s firefighters are volunteers, soadditional funding is always welcome.

“Mississippi’s firefighters – many of them volunteers – are onthe front lines when it comes to keeping people safe,” Wicker said.”This important grant program ensures our firefighters have theresources to continue doing their jobs and protecting thepublic.”

The announcement brings the total number of local firedepartments in Mississippi that have received AFG grants this yearto 49.

Heuck’s Retreat Volunteer Fire Department received a grantearlier this year to fund a new fire truck, as well. Evans alsosaid others could be on the way, especially since it is so early inthe year. Part of his reasoning lies in the fact that he put in fortraining in all his grants, as the National Fire Protection Agencyis cracking down on compliance standards.

“You can have all the trucks you want, but if you don’t have thegear and the training to go with the gear, your trucks aren’t worthmuch,” he said. “We put in training money for level one volunteercertification, hopefully as a failsafe.”

AFG grants are awarded on a competitive basis by FEMA incooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration. Fire departments andemergency medical service organizations that are not affiliatedwith a hospital may apply for operations and safety or vehicleacquisition funding.