B y Jaime Thomas
Members of the North Granville Fire Company will soon be seeing some new equipment.
Fire Chief Scott McCullen recently got a call telling him the department will receive a $29,469 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA,) which is money that is much needed.
“We’ve been fighting to keep these grants — that’s what keeps the small volunteer companies going,” McCullen said.
On the FEMA website, the federal government describes the primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) as “to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations. Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.”
And McCullen said the grant has done just that. In 2007, his company was awarded about $80,000 for equipment and gear, and in 2009 the department received about $30,000 for hoses.
“We’ve been very fortunate; this is our third time getting this, and it’s a hard grant to get,” he said, explaining that it was an intense effort to get the money because it’s through the federal government. “You have to put in for it, show the narrative and explain the need.”
This year, the funds will be used to purchase mobile radio, pagers and other equipment. McCullen said a mobile radio costs at least $2200, and a pager is $500, which is why that gear hasn’t been replaced for a long time.
“The impact on us getting this grant is great. The community just can’t afford to pay more. Some of the equipment in the trucks is pushing 20 years old, but we can’t afford to go out and buy new ones,” McCullen said.
He thinks the biggest impact the new equipment will have is keeping his men safe.
“The biggest thing is the safety for my firefighters. Otherwise (without the grant) we’d be cutting corners.”
He also expressed gratitude toward senators Schumer and Gillibrand, who are strong supporters of these firefighter grants.