Douglas County has recently been awarded a regional grant for personal protective equipment (PPE), items also called turnout gear for area volunteer fire departments.
Seven county departments are recipients of the award through the Douglas County Missouri Fire Chief’s Association, with Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department acting as host department. The seven county departments include Ava City VFD, Brixey-Rockbridge VFD, Dora VFD, Eastern Douglas County VDF, Skyline VFD, Squires VFD, and Twin Bridges VFD. The departments are replacing turnout gear that in some instances was over 30-years old.
The standard rule for PPE calls for gear to be replaced every 10 years. However, a full set of gear costs over $2,000, and that expense makes it impossible for local fire departments to fulfill that requirement since most departments rely solely on membership dues. The City of Ava Volunteer Fire Department is tax-based; however, those funds are still limited.
The grant award is known as an AFG or Assistance to Firefighter’s Grant, and it enables departments to obtain critically needed equipment they likely cannot afford otherwise. The grant pays 95% of the cost of gear, and the fire departments contribute 5%. This allows units to outfit an entire department for less than the cost of two sets of PPE.
PPE is a basic necessity for life safety for every firefighter. Without reliable PPE, fire fighters simply cannot perform the job of keeping communities safe from fire and natural disaster. With the grant, each firefighter receives a turnout coat, pants, boots, helmet, firefighting gloves, extrication gloves, hood, survivor lights and gear bag.
Because of the grant, Ava City VFD and Eastern Douglas County VFD were also able to purchase washer extractors and a gear dryer. This equipment helps properly maintain the new gear and reduce hazards associated with carcinogens when the gear gets dirty. The extractor equipment will also be shared by all of the county departments.
In addition, the grant provided funds for training classes to be scheduled within Douglas County. In the past, training opportunities required volunteers to travel outside of the area making sessions difficult or impossible to attend. With local access, the classes are convenient, less costly, and well-attended.
If interested in volunteering and serving your community, please contact your local fire department.