L-A fire department gets FEMA grant

Lowell-Adams Volunteer Fire Chief Josh Harris already knows how the department will be using a $174,075 grant recently awarded the department by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We have to buy all new turnout gear-30 sets, from head to toe, and that’s about $2,000 apiece,” he said. “We’ll also purchase 15 new air packs at about $5,000 each. The new ones will be a lot lighter with 30-minute air tanks.”

In addition the department needs a new Jaws of Life hydraulic rescue tool. Harris said the old tool cannot cut through some of the new metals being used to build late model vehicles.

“We go by NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards, so the Jaws of Life will likely cost around $25,000,” he said. “It’s sad that the fire equipment departments need has to be so expensive, but we’re fortunate to have been awarded this grant.”

Harris said some of the equipment being replaced is still serviceable and will be passed on to other local VFDs that may need it.

L-A Fire Board member Bob Kubota noted although NFPA recommends replacement of the turnout gear and air packs every few years to meet its national standards, some of the turnout and air pack equipment being replaced by the department is still in good shape and can be used by other fire companies.

“For example, NFPA says turnout gear is only good for 10 years and should be replaced, but in the state of Ohio that’s not a requirement,” he said. “And some of our air packs will go to other local fire departments, too. Air pack equipment can still provide good service for several years.”

Kubota said the FEMA grant is the largest the department has ever received.

“You never know if you’re going to get a grant or not, and it was several months before we received word that we were being awarded this grant,” he said. “It was also the first time we’ve ever applied for this type of grant.”

Harris said although the total grant is for $174,075, the department has to provide a 5 percent match of $8,704 and FEMA covers the remaining $165,371. He said the department’s contribution will be paid out of money raised through local community fundraisers.

He said the L-A VFD currently has 34 members and averages 160 squad runs and at least 50 fire runs every year, covering the Lowell and Adams Township areas.

“The grant money is a big boost for the department, but the biggest thing is that we want to be sure our guys are safe and return home after a run,” Harris said.