Several Upper Cumberland fire departments and rescue squads were among the 147 groups awarded funding from the state’s $5 million Volunteer Firefighter Equipment and Training Grant Program.
Baxter Fire Chief Matthew White said the grant program comes as part of the state’s efforts to help smaller departments get necessary new and upgraded equipment. White said his department received about $48,000 that will help the department keep up with gear for its volunteers.
“That’s one of those specialized things when you don’t have the exact people every year and you change personnel, you have to fit those for them,” White said. “And you have a challenge keeping up with protective gear to make sure you have the right gear for the right person at the right time and making sure it fits them correctly.”
Jackson County Central Fire Department Chief Jeff Conn said his department received some $45,000. He said they plan to spend it on self-contained breathing apparatuses, or SCBAs.
“It’s very helpful,” Conn said. “Each air pack cost $7,500 a piece or more and that’s a lot for a volunteer fire department to have put out and we have several of those units. And all of our units are ten years old currently, so to get new ones it’s going to make it a lot safer for our firemen while they’re fighting fire.”