To celebrate Globe’s 125th anniversary in 2012, we teamed up with DuPont Protection Solutions and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) to give back to the community of volunteers that is the backbone of the American fire service. The response was so overwhelming and the need so dire from volunteer fire departments in need that our Globe Gear Giveaway Program is now in its fifth year.
This year alone, we received over 600 applications for gear. A total of 13 departments will receive four sets of new, state-of-the-art turnout gear each. Since the application deadline of June 1st, awards have been made to the following departments:
- Klawock (AK) Volunteer Fire Department ‒ The Klawock Volunteer Fire Department (KVFD) is located on the west side of Prince of Wales – a remote island in southeast Alaska accessible only by air or water. Like many rural fire and rescue departments, Klawock is under-funded, struggling, and completely volunteer-based. KVFD currently has 13 active firefighters and 11 sets of turnout gear. Six of those turnout sets were donations from another fire department and are almost 20 years old. These turnout sets are incomplete, frayed, ripped, and do not meet NFPA guidelines. During a recent mutual aid response for a large commercial structure fire, half of their responding firefighters suffered from hypothermia, smoke inhalation, and foot injuries/blisters from ill-fitting boots.
- Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Department (Broadway, NJ) ‒ The Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Department covers 38 square miles and averages 200 to 240 calls a year, consisting of motor vehicle accidents, structure fires, wildland fires, and various types of rescues. Most department funding is raised by the fire department, combined with a small allocation from the municipalities to keep apparatus operational. Apparatus maintenance requires most of the budget, so it is a challenge to keep firefighters properly equipped and in compliant PPE. Currently, the 46-member department only has 38 sets of gear; of these, 14 are more than 10 years old.
- Norton Volunteer Fire Department (New Brunswick, Canada) ‒ The Norton Volunteer Fire Department is a completely volunteer department handling fire, motor vehicle accident, wildland, and medical calls. With a very small budget, they maintain four trucks, a pumper, a tanker, a rescue vehicle, and a four-wheel drive half ton truck and trailer. The community has no fire hydrants, so firefighters have to draft water to fill trucks which results in large quantities of sand getting into the pumps. The sand erodes the pumps quickly so funds must be spent each year to repair the pumps and valves. The department has 22 volunteer firefighters and 24 sets of gear – but 16 sets are more than 10 years old. Much of the existing gear has been passed down from member to member.
- Glacier County Rural Fire Department (Cut Bank, MT) ‒ The Glacier County Rural Fire Department (GCRFD) serves five small communities and two incorporated towns in an area that includes the Blackfeet Indian Reservation land. GCRFD is responsible for ensuring that county lines are covered in the event of fires, providing mutual aid for wildland fires, lending tribal assistance, and responding to EMS calls when requested. In addition, they provide fire prevention and safety outreach in the community, and they even organized a donation drive to get winter clothing for local children who were unable to afford it. The GCRFD budget is dedicated to maintenance of older vehicles, supplies, building costs, and training; all of their gear is more than 10 years old and many volunteers are making do with sets that don’t fit correctly.
- Walker Lake (NV) Volunteer Fire Department ‒ The Walker Lake Volunteer Fire Department’s 12 volunteer firefighters respond within a 50-square-mile service area. All of their gear is over 10 years old, and most are over 20 years old. During a training exercise, the knee area in the thermal liner of one firefighter’s set of gear failed. This led to an investigation that found that the 10 oldest sets of the department’s turnout gear have started to break down. Due to this safety hazard, they have had to adjust their tactics, preventing firefighters from performing interior fire attack. The department has a small budget that is supplemented through monthly fundraisers, but they are unable to get afford new turnout gear without cutting back on other department operations.
- LaGrange (ME) Fire Department ‒ The LaGrange Fire Department serves 750 citizens in a 50-square-mile area. Their 15 volunteer firefighters respond to 125 calls per year. Unfortunately, due to an extremely limited annual budget, the department only has 10 sets of gear and all are more than 10 years old. They have been unsuccessful in applying for local, state, and federal grants.
- Pekin Volunteer Fire Department and First Responders (Mount Gilead, NC) ‒ The Pekin Volunteer Fire Department and First Responders serves a rural area in two counties in south central NC. Their 20 volunteers respond to approximately 120 calls each year. Most of their apparatus and turnout gear was received used when the department was founded in 1985. They operate on a $15,000 annual budget, of which only $5,000 is from their counties and the rest from fundraising efforts. Their last gear purchase was in 2002, when they received an Assistance to Firefighters Grant.
To be eligible to apply for four sets of Globe gear, departments had to meet the following requirements:
- be all-volunteer or mostly-volunteer (over 50%)
- serve a population of 25,000 or less
- be located in the U.S. or Canada and legally organized under state/province law
- demonstrate a need for the gear
- department or person applying must be a member of the NVFC. To help struggling departments meet the membership criteria, Globe provided a complimentary NVFC Membership to the first 500 applicants.
Additional awards through the Globe Gear Giveaway Program will be made throughout 2016.
Globe is grateful for the thousands of volunteer firefighters who protect our communities every day. They deserve the best personal protection to ensure their own safety.