NEW MADISON — The New Madison Volunteer Fire Company received a $4,000 grant from the Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade grant program Friday, November 17.
The Bucket Brigade program awarded $188,400 in grants to departments this year for equipment critical to firefighters’ safety, according to company spokesperson Brennan Robison. Since the program began, in 2006, Georgia-Pacific has given more than $2.2 million in cash and educational materials to 287 fire departments that serve the company’s facility communities across the country, he said.
New Madison Volunteer Fire Company (NMVFC) covers: Harrison, Butler and part of Neave townships and the villages of New Madison and Castine. It averages about 200 runs per year, covering approximately 100 square miles of fire district, protecting more than 7,700 community members. In addition, the company promotes fire safety education, by regularly providing children’s fire education programs at schools and churches in the area. NMVFC President, Assistant Chief and Captain Randy Mikesell said the company had submitted the application to purchase fire gear.
“We needed three new sets,” he said.
According to NMVFC Chief Robert Cook “Scoob,” for the company to outfit a firefighter in a coat and pants costs around $3,000.
“The gloves are $175, a helmet is $350 and the boots are $350,” Cook said. “That does not include the self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs).”
The NMVFC had applied for the grant before, but this was its first time receiving the Bucket Brigade grant. The company will match the other half of the grant.
“We have been pretty aggressive with our grant-writing, but it gets harder and harder all the time to get grants,” Mikesell said. “They are invaluable.”
In addition, Bentonville Volunteer Fire Department (BVFD), in Fayette County Indiana, near Connersville, received a $1,000 grant from the Bucket Brigade. The department covers 69-square-miles protecting about 6,000 people. It will celebrate it’s 50th anniversary in 2019. BVFD Captain John Clarke said the department will use the grant money, with some matching funds, for communication equipment. He said the company’s insurance costs more than $17,000 per year, and it is hard to find volunteers.
“Fifty years years ago, everybody farmed 300 acres and that was a big farm,” he said. “Now everyone farms thousands of acres. We are competing with other activities, such as soccer games and teachers’ meetings. In Indiana, to bring a new person on the training costs about $13,000 in classes and about 160-hours of training.”
Since the program began in 2006, Georgia-Pacific has given more than $2.2 million in cash and educational materials to 287 fire departments that serve the company’s facility communities across the country, Robison said. Director of Operations for Georgia-Pacific’s Color-Box plant in Richmond, Indiana Amy Zetzl said the company is very committed to helping support its local fire departments.
“We have strong relationships with the local fire departments and we feel very proud to be able to help them stay well-equipped with their support and needs,” she said. “Georgia-Pacific does a lot of charitable donations to all different kind of groups; fire departments are just one. It also supports a lot of local non-profit groups, such as the Boys & Girls Club of America, the Boy Scouts of America and the Safety Village Program.”
Zetzl said that Georgia-Pacific has several employees that live in New Madison or in the surrounding area, such as Plant Superintendent Vernon Peters and Joe Frech. Frech was a NMVFC volunteer for 10 years.
“We support any fire department that has a worthy need and applies through the grant program,” Zetzl said. “We appreciate their selfless dedication to the communities they serve.”
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