EAST PRAIRIE - The East Prairie Fire Department will receive $54,914 in grant money through a United States Fire Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency program.
"We appreciate it - we really need it," said East Prairie Fire Chief Gary Grogan. "It's going to help out a whole lot."
A panel of over 300 fire service personnel evaluated approximately 19,500 applications from departments across the United States with a focus on assisting departments in rural areas. This is the tenth round of grant awards intended to enhance basic fire service.
East Prairie requested funds to provide personal protective equipment for another eight firemen in order to meet federal safety requirements. The East Prairie Fire Department consists of one full-time fireman and 11 volunteers.
Currently only four of the 12 fire fighters have complete sets of protective gear which includes self-contained breathing apparatus and spare air cylinder, pants, coat, suspenders, hood, helmet, gloves, bunker boots, helmet light, eye protection goggles and PASS device which monitors the fire fighter to detect if they stop moving or if they are surrounded by extreme heat.
In addition to the eight sets of protective gear and self-contained breathing apparatus, the funds will also be used to purchase a fill station and air compressor to recharge the self-contained breather tanks and a ventilation saw.
The federal funds will cover 90 percent of the equipment's $61,015 cost with the remaining $6,101 being from local matching funds.
Danny Lafferty, who previously served as East Prairie's fire chief before becoming the chief of police, initiated the grant application process along with City Administrator Kathie Simpkins. "The application was actually filled out by our city administrator," said Lafferty.
Lafferty said this is the city's second time applying for the grant. "We were not selected the first time," he said. "The equipment will be very helpful."
The Scott City Fire Department was also included in this round of awards, approved for $81,905.
Scott City Fire Chief Jay Cassout said their grant will be used to pay for additional training and safety equipment including 10 sets of personal protective gear for fully-involved structural fires, six self-contained breathing apparatus sets and wildland firefighting equipment. "It's going to help us quite a bit," said Cassout.
"The Assistance for Firefighters Grant Award program is an opportunity for this nation to enhance the safety and services delivered by firefighters," USFA Administrator R. David Paulson stated in a news release. "Already this year, at least 53 fire fighters have lost their lives in the performance of their jobs, and this program will hopefully encourage all Americans to join with FEMA in doing what is necessary to eliminate all fires and protect the men and women of the fire service when they are called to respond to them."
In a press release commenting on the grant award, Rep. Jo Ann Emerson said: "Our firefighters come from all walks of life and serve every segment of society. In fact, many of these brave men and women are volunteers who generously serve their community in another occupation and then volunteer to help keep us safe and out of harm's way.
"However, many of those departments, especially those here in rural Missouri, operate on less than a shoe-string budget and have needed new equipment and more training for a number of years. This much-needed funding will help fire departments buy this critical equipment, ultimately helping reduce deaths and injuries in our nation's fire service community."