Helping Volunteer Departments Protect Their Responders

Shiloh Powell Images, Anchorage

Globe and DuPont Protection Solutions (DuPont), in partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), awarded 13 fire departments with a total of 52 sets of life-saving turnout gear in 2017 through the Globe Gear Giveaway. The program is designed to help fire departments with limited budgets who struggle to maintain adequate protection for their personnel.
Awards in the 4th quarter were made to the following departments:

  • Tanglewood Volunteer Fire Department (TX) ‒ The Tanglewood Volunteer Fire Department is located in Lexington, TX. Its 16 firefighters serve a population of 1,500 residents over 48 square miles and also provide mutual aid to three neighboring departments for structural fires, grass fires, and vehicle accidents. The department is predominantly self-funded and relies heavily on grants and donations for their equipment, repairs, upgrades, and daily operations, which leaves no funding for new or updated gear. One-third of their personnel have only wildland personal protective equipment (PPE), and the rest of the firefighters are outfitted with structural PPE that is over 10 years old and not compliant with current recommended safety standards.
  • Tuscumbia Fire Protection District (MO) ‒ The Tuscumbia Fire Protection District (TFPD) is located in the middle of Miller County, MO, and protects 55 square miles with a population of 1,100 permanent residents. In addition to providing mutual aid to surrounding departments, the TFPD sees an influx of over 1,000 transient residents who come into the district to work at the area nursing home, court house, and school. They also have three daycare centers, five major churches, and the county health center in their service area, along with a service station that has 7,000 gallons worth of fuel storage. Two major state highways run through the district, which makes it a major thoroughfare for Fort Leonard Wood Army Post and Whiteman Air Force Base. The TFPD successfully applied for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant to obtain 10 new sets of PPE. However, that was over 10 years ago and now their gear is outdated and considered obsolete according to recommended safety standards.
  • Lewis Township Volunteer Fire Company (IN) ‒ The Lewis Township Volunteer Fire Company (VFC) is located in Coalmont, IN, and serves a population of 1,600 residents over 42 square miles. Training has been paramount in order to better protect the volunteers, and members are certified at the Firefighter II level. The department has outgrown its 50-year-old station and needs to upgrade its equipment, vehicles, attack and supply lines, communications systems, and training props. The department is in desperate need of new gear as well. Twelve of its 18 members have gear that is over 10 years old and does not meet national safety standards. Despite these growing needs, the company continues to provide invaluable services to the community, including public safety scholarships for graduating seniors, fire prevention and life safety education, smoke alarm donation and installation programs, and more. This award from Globe will help offset Lewis Township VFC’s financial needs, improve the safety of its volunteers, and allow department members to continue to give back, not only to their community, but also to surrounding departments who rely on them for critical training.
  • Princeville Volunteer Fire Department (NC) ‒ The Princeville Volunteer Fire Department is located roughly 60 miles from the Atlantic Coast in Princeville, NC. In 2016 the department lost everything – including its fire station and all of the gear that it owned – after being hit by Hurricane Matthew, a Category 5 storm. Princeville responders performed over 40 water rescues during the storm, and in the aftermath, the town was flooded from the Tar River. The department is currently operating out of a tent behind the remains of the station, which will soon be demolished. The department’s 28 volunteers protect 12,000 residents in the town and surrounding county. While they were able to acquire 20 sets of gear, all are over 10 years old and noncompliant with NFPA standards. Before the disaster, the department was very proactive in teaching fire prevention year-round in the schools, churches, daycares, and apartment complexes throughout the fire district. Still in recovery from the hurricane’s destruction, the volunteers remain committed to their community.
  • Buffalo Fire Department (KY) ‒ The Buffalo Fire Department serves over 400 residents. Their 21 volunteers all have personal protective equipment (PPE); however, all of their PPE is over 10 years old and not recommended for use according to national safety standards. While the department is striving to properly outfit their members, budget constraints haven’t allowed them to purchase new gear for over 16 years. The four sets of turnout gear from the Globe Gear Giveaway program will greatly impact the safety of their volunteers and the residents they serve.
  • Cherokee Volunteer Fire Department (AL) ‒ The Cherokee Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) provides service to 10,000 residents in western Colbert County in the northwest corner of the state. The area has many residential, commercial, and industrial structures; the industrial structures contain hazardous materials and the Cherokee VFD assists with keeping these industries compliant with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They are also responsible for fifteen miles of riverfront coverage and a four lane state highway. Station and apparatus maintenance, along with rescue tools that are over 15 years old and beginning to fail, have completely absorbed the department’s budget, leaving them unable to equip nearly half of their 38 volunteers with compliant PPE. New members have volunteered to help, but the department is not able to provide them with proper gear because of their limited budget and mounting expenses.
  • Pulaski Township Volunteer Fire Department (PA) ‒ The Pulaski Township Volunteer Fire Department serves 5,000 residents in New Brighton. In the last two and a half years, the department’s roster has grown from two active firefighters to 21. The department had to reissue older PPE in order to provide their growing membership some protection. While most of the gear is still in decent condition, about 75 percent is 10 years old or older and not compliant with recommended safety standards. The department’s limited budget is allocated towards insurance, bills, fuel, and repairs, which leaves little room for new equipment or turnout gear.

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.

We all owe a huge debt of thanks to the volunteers who are the frontline of firefighting in communities across the country. Globe is glad to be able to improve the safety of some of these departments with limited resources by providing their members with the most advanced turnout gear.