ROSSBURG – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) recently announced that Rossburg Volunteer Fire Department has been awarded $114,767 for Operations and Safety by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program.
“Firefighters put their lives on the line each day to keep our communities safe,” Brown said. “These new federal resources will help ensure that Rossburg’s skilled responders have the updated resources they need to safely do their jobs.”
“We will definitely put the $120,000 to good use,” said Fire Chief Doug Cothran. “We will match the $114,767 with $5,378.”
Cothran, who wrote the grant, said the money will be used for 14 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBAs) and turnout gear for 15 firefighters.
“We asked for the SCBAs which include mask, bottle and Personal Alert Safety System integrated device,” Cothran said. “The masks are with voice amplifiers and there will be spare bottle in each pack. We are going from 2216 pressure bottles to a 4500 pressure bottles to allow us to be in an environment longer.”
The turnout gear, the chief said, includes helmet Nomex hood, coat, pants, boots, gloves and suspenders.
“The SCBAs and turnout gear will make us compliant,” he said. “It’s important we get this help. Air packs are $6,100 apiece and turnout tear is $2,800 to put on firefighter in gear. At every structure, we are required to have all of this. They are basically essential to keep us compliant.”
He went on, “We’re constantly looking for funding and it’s important to continue upgrading and keeping firefighters in the latest technology. Finding this [FEMA]funding is great and helps us quite a bit.”
The Rossburg Fire Association’s major fund-raiser is its ice cream social, always held in early June, and the firefighters also host two breakfast a year. All of these proceeds go to buy equipment.
“We appreciate everybody’s support from the community,” the chief said.
The Rossburg Volunteer Fire Department has 15 firefighters. Rob Widener is assistant chief, Joe Widener, captain and Chris Widener lieutenant.
The departments covers all of Rossburg and parts of Allen, York and Mississinawa townships.
“We average 60 runs a year with mutual aid,” Cothran said.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program helps firefighters and other first responders protect the public and themselves. Projects funded in the Operations and Safety category include training, facility upgrades and modifications, and supplies such as protective equipment.
Interested fire departments can contact Brown’s grant coordinator to receive information about federal grant opportunities.