The county of Douglas was blessed to be awarded a regional grant for PPE, personal protective clothing, also known as “turnout gear.” Through the Douglas County Missouri Fire Chief’s Association, with Eastern Douglas County VFD acting as the host department, seven county departments, including Ava City VFD, Brixey-Rockbridge VFD, Dora VFD, Eastern Douglas County VFD, Skyline VFD, Squires VFD, and Twin Bridges VFD, will all be replacing turnout gear that in some instances was in excess of thirty years old. The standard on personal protective gear or “PPE” calls for it to be replaced every ten years. With a full set of PPE costing in excess of $2,000, it is cost prohibitive for our rural fire departments that survive on memberships and receive no tax money. The one tax based fire department, Ava City, does not have that kind of money in their budget either. This grant, known as an AFG or Assistance to Firefighter’s Grant, enables departments to obtain the critically needed equipment they could otherwise never afford. The grant pays for 95% of the cost of the PPE. The fire departments are contributing 5%. In most cases, we have been able to outfit entire departments for less than what two sets of PPE would normally cost.
PPE is a basic necessity for life safety for every firefighter. Without reliable PPE, we can simply not perform or jobs of keeping our beloved communities safe from the perils of fire and natural disaster. Thanks to this grant, each firefighter will receive turnout coat, pants, boots, helmet, firefighting gloves, extrication gloves, a hood, survivor lights and a gear bag. Two departments, Ava City VFD and Eastern Douglas County VFD, were also able to purchase washer extractors and one gear dryer. This equipment will help us properly maintain our new gear, and reduce the hazards associated with carcinogens found on dirty gear. With one unit on each end of the county, they are conveniently located for all departments to share.
Another blessing this grant provided was the funding to run an in-county firefighter 1 and 2 class. Most classes are held over an hour away. These classes are over several months and quite a time commitment for volunteers to make. With having classes so far away, most volunteers cannot attend. The class has just started, and it is full. We are very excited to have this training opportunity.
While these grants are highly competitive, the benefits they offer are beyond what we could dream of or afford. This has been a true blessing to our county and the citizens of the communities we serve, and we all thank God for it. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and serving your community, please contact your local fire department.