“These departments demonstrated a great need for gear, and we are very happy to partner with Globe and DuPont to make these awards possible,” said NVFC Executive Director Heather Schafer. “Through these gear donations, Globe and DuPont are making a dangerous job safer for firefighters who otherwise wouldn’t be able to wear compliant, well-fitting gear. This program is making a great deal of difference to deserving fire departments all across the country.”
Through 2013, Globe and DuPont are providing up to 52 sets of gear to volunteer fire departments in need. The program is administered through the NVFC and open to NVFC members in the U.S. and Canada who are all-volunteer departments serving a population of 25,000 or less and who demonstrate a dire need for new gear that they cannot fulfill themselves. The first round of awards was announced last month, and additional awards will be made each month for the rest of the year.
Clear Creek Volunteer Fire Department in Idaho protects 1,200 people over an approximately 25-square-mile area. The department provides wildland suppression and structural firefighting services, as well as mutual aid to six other area departments. While the department did receive a grant to purchase a few sets of structural PPE over a decade ago, most of the personnel rely on donated gear that is mismatched and 15-20 years old. The department receives its budget through fundraising events and donations, leaving no funds available for purchasing new gear.
“As volunteers, we already risk our lives for very little to nothing in return,” said Clear Creek Fire Chief Sam Bonovich. “As a Fire Chief, it is very hard to watch your people do a job well and not be properly dressed for the task at hand.”
The Jackson Township Fire Department lost the use of their fire station and a great deal of equipment in a 2008 flood. As a result, the department moved to Helmsburg, IN, in order to have better access to their service area and be in the hub of potential dangers. The volunteers helped construct a new maintenance building in the spring of 2009, and in 2010 the department received a federal grant to build an actual station. However, much of their equipment still has problems stemming from the flood, and many items had to be omitted from the new station due to lack of funds. The majority of the department’s 25 firefighters respond in old gear that does not meet current standards.
“Your support is essential to help make the community a safer place,” said Chief Glenn Elmore in his application. “To have firefighters train to fight fire but cannot go into a structure because their gear is too old is very sad.”
Likewise, the Woodbury Heights Fire Department in New Jersey suffered a devastating loss when their station burned down in March of 2012. Believed to have been an electrical fire, the department lost most of their gear and one of their firefighters was severely injured in the fire. The department is currently operating out of a warehouse while they raise funds to build a new station. With 30 firefighters and an annual call volume of around 225, the department is in desperate need of gear.
The East Dixfield Fire Department, located in a rural section of Maine, has seen their call volume double since 2009. Most of their firefighters get by with old, worn-out gear that has been donated by other area departments. Even with the hand-me-downs, they currently have more firefighters than gear available. They also struggle to find funding to update other equipment, such as SCBA bottles and packs, and for training. Despite the challenges, the firefighters remain fully committed to their community and participate in a great deal of community programs, including mentoring the Western Maine Junior Firefighter Program, hosting and participating in an annual American Red Cross blood drive, holding food drives, and providing fire safety education.
“Our department will benefit from receiving the sets of gear because it will help to keep our firefighters’ lives safe and will open up the opportunity to take other measures of safety such as increasing training,” said Amanda Marchetti, a volunteer firefighter with the department.
The new sets of Globe gear will go a long way in enhancing the safety of the firefighters in all of these departments.