The grant will be shared by the Uhrichsville Fire Department, the Warwick Township Volunteer Fire Department and the Rush Township Volunteer Fire Department. Uhrichsville was the lead agency in procuring the grant.

UHRICHSVILLE Three area fire departments have received a $429,737 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to purchase personal protective equipment for first responders.

The grant will be shared by the Uhrichsville Fire Department, the Warwick Township Volunteer Fire Department and the Rush Township Volunteer Fire Department. Uhrichsville was the lead agency in procuring the grant.

"This is critical equipment for our department," said Uhrichsville Fire Chief Justin Edwards. "This is stuff that is very expensive that we can't go without. If we hadn't received this grant, we couldn't have purchased the equipment all at one time. It would take years to have this level of modern equipment."

The equipment — which has yet to be purchased — will include new air packs, RIT (Rapid Intervention Team) packs, fit testing equipment, thermal imaging cameras and funds to provide training on the equipment.

"We haven't purchased the equipment yet," Edwards said. "We have to follow the grant guidelines, so we will most likely go out to bid."

The grant is through the Assistance to Firefighters Grants program, which supports fire departments across the country to ensure the safety of both first responders and the public.

"Ohio firefighters and first responders work every day to protect our families," U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, R-Ohio, said in a statement in announcing the grant. "We must support our first responder organizations so that communities like Uhrichsville have the resources to shield families and homes from fire hazards."

Edwards said they first applied for the grant in fiscal year 2015 but were unsuccessful. They applied again in fiscal year 2016 and were notified on May 5 that they had received the grant. He described the grant as highly competitive.

The local departments will have to provide a 5 percent match to the grant.

Warwick Township's fire chief, Harold Booth, said his department will be purchasing self-contained breathing apparatus and a station to fill them up, thermal imaging cameras and RIT bags. Firefighters take RIT bags with them into burning structures to provide more air should they be trapped, he said.

"We're really pleased with this," he said. "It's a big help to us. We operate on a real tight budget for our township."

Booth noted that his department is also in the processing of receiving a new fire truck in September. A state grant will pay half of the cost of the $426,000 truck.

"We've been blessed the last two years," he said. "We got a grant last year from the Rosenberry Foundation for a new jaws of life. We've been fortunate."

The Rush Township department will be purchasing new self-contained breathing apparatus, said Chief Rick Poland.

"Ours is old. It will be updated," he said. "We wouldn't be able to afford it without the grant."

The equipment will cost about $100,000.

"It's something we very much needed to upgrade," Poland said. "We talked about it, but didn't have the money to do it."

Edwards was pleased that the three departments are receiving the grant.

"We're all excited when we can get funds to improve our department and get equipment to keep our firemen safe and our citizens safe," he said.

 

Reach Jon at 330-364-8415 or at jon.baker@timesreporter.com.

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