Firefighting, much like electrical linework, can be a dangerous business. An important key to reducing risks for both endeavors is having the proper safety equipment.
That’s why a People Fund grant awarded to the Riverton Fire Department earlier this year rings especially true to our hearts here at GLE. The department, which is currently comprised of about 20 firefighters, serves the townships of Riverton, Summit, and Eden in Mason County.
Riverton Fire Department Fire Chief Joe Cooper said the $2,400 People Fund grant the department received went a long way to helping purchase six new helmets and two new pairs of boots for firefighters. Cooper said state safety guidelines require firefighters’ protective gear, such as turnout coats, bunker pants, boots, gloves and helmets to be replaced every 10 years. He said the gear is costly and yearly budgets only have a small amount allocated for replacements.
“With our smaller budget that we have through the fire authority and the fire authority taking care of seven stations, they can never give us what we need to keep up on that stuff. We were due for equipment replacement. We just needed to start somewhere and keep plugging away at it,” Cooper said. “The grant gave us a nice little jump start to help replace some stuff.”
Cooper said it had been suggested to him several times in the past to apply for a People Fund grant, but this year was the first time was able to get a grant application submitted.
Firefighters’ helmets do more than protect the wearer from getting a knock on the noggin from falling debris. They are also designed to help keep falling embers and water off firefighters’ necks and backs.
Also, in addition protecting firefighters’ heads, for some departments helmets also serve another important purpose. Many departments use a helmet color scheme to help identify who is in charge on an emergency scene. When such systems are used, the chief (and sometimes the deputy chief) wear a white helmet. Other officers wear a red helmet, while rank-and-file firefighters will wear a black or sometimes yellow helmet.
Cooper said with the purchase of the new helmets, his department is in the process of implementing this system. Also, the new helmets have a badge on the front that carries the department’s station number and the individual identification number of the wearer. He said the newer helmets serve as a point of pride among firefighters.
Not only are GLE lineworkers likeminded when it comes to safety, but it’s also not uncommon for GLE crews to work with firefighters. Often fire crews are the first to respond to reports of power lines down. In other instances, GLE crews might be called to assist at the scene of a traffic crash or a structure fire.
When GLE members agree to have their bills rounded up to the next whole dollar through the People Fund, they can count helping those who help others among the many ways their dollars are making a difference.