The Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department needs the pubic’s assistance to help pay for self contained breathing apparatus equipment.

The TVFD learned earlier this month that an application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for an Assistance to Firefighters program grant to help purchase the SCBA equipment was not approved, Chief Marty Shelton said.

The Caney Branch Volunteer Fire Department was recently approved for a similar grant. The fire department was notified it did get an $84,500 Assistance to Firefighters grant for SCBA packs, with a 5% department match, Chief Ryan Holt said.

Holt, also chief of the Greene County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments, reiterated the importance Monday of public support for local firefighters.

TVFD GRANT REQUEST DENIED

Shelton said the Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department is currently using outdated SCBA packs.

At a recent called meeting after receiving word of the grant denial, fire department members decided to purchase new SCBAs and replace the outdated current units.

Twelve SCBAs are needed to equip three of the fire department engines with four complete packs, and with four spare cylinders on each unit, Shelton said.

The 12 SCBAs are what is required to satisfy Insurance Services Office requirements and National Fire Protection Association standards. They will replace “current outdated packs on our apparatus,” Shelton said.

“The current packs and cylinders we have (have) reached the end of their life in terms of being compliant. Our packs were bought in 2006 and the air cylinders have a 15-year shelf life on the lightweight composite bottles,” Shelton said.

Firefighter safety is at issue, Sheton said.

“The 15-year mark is this year, and we have been waiting to hear from the (AFG program). With the recent negative news of us not getting the AFG awarded, missing the award by only a single point, we were left with having to make a decision soon,” Shelton said.

The fire department looked at two vendors before deciding on a purchase for the best price.

Shelton said packs will be ordered next week and will arrive within six weeks.

The Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department currently awaits the return of mail-outs to the public and will conduct a roadblock fundraiser Saturday. Shelton appealed to the public for assistance.

“The packs are required for the firefighters to be protected and capable of performing their duties. We will have to put some other projects on hold to continue making updates and improvements to the department’s capabilities such as personal escape systems for each interior trained firefighter, a backup set of the personal protective clothing for each firefighter, and a possible replacement of a 1985 model pumper-tanker over the next few years,” he said.

CANEY BRANCH GRANT

The news is better for the Caney Branch Volunteer Fire Department, which received word it will receive the $84,500 Assistance to Firefighters grant through FEMA.

The fire department has purchased 12 of the SCBA packs that will replace equipment more than 10 years old that is no longer state-compliant, Holt said.

The SCBA new equipment will be put into service as soon as training is completed by firefighters.

As chief of the county Volunteer Association of Fire Departments, Holt knows that every department applying for a grant is not approved, including Caney Branch.

“(Caney Branch) has been trying to replace these for the last two years. They were approved the third year,” Holt said. “It’s hard to pay for the equipment when you are paying about $7,000 for each pack.”

The new SCBA packs have “all the new technology,” he said.

Equipment used by fire services is constantly being improved and updated, Holt said.

“You kind of got to go with the technology of the fire service today. (Older equipment) is getting obsolete,” Holt said.

APPLICATION PROCESS

AFG applications are detailed and include a computer assessment in addition to a peer review. Especially in communities with fewer resources, “The support of the community of the volunteer fire departments is a dire need,” Holt said.

The public doesn’t realize how important members of the fire service are “until they are needed,” Holt said.

SCBA packs “are for the safety of the firefighters to do the job. They are volunteering their time,” Holt said. “The day-to-day operation of fire service, it’s almost like a job (but) the monthly pay is trying to support your community.”

Volunteers continue to be sought by all county volunteer departments, Holt said.

“The thing that hurts a lot is the younger generation is not willing to volunteer their time. All fire departments are trying to recruit,” he said. “You don’t have to be an interior firefighter. There are other things (people) can do.”

Shelton said as the Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department conducts fundraising efforts for SCBA equipment, “We ask that we continue to receive the support of our community to help with this replacement project.”

“Your monetary contribution will allow us to provide services to the Tusculum community and assist the neighboring communities as well,” Shelton said.

Donations can be mailed or dropped off at the Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department station at 145 Alexander St. or an attached code can be scanned to donate directly to the department.

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