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Grant to fund equipment for Carrollton firefighters

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By Dave Taylor

The News-Democrat

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded fire grant funding totaling $101,289 to the Carrollton Fire Department.

The grant is part of nearly $535,000 in Assistance to Firefighters Grant funding allotted to local fire departments and emergency medical service organizations across the state of Kentucky on March 20, according to a release from FEMA. Fire grants are to be used for funding firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical services organizations, and for supporting regional projects involving multiple organizations serving more than one local jurisdiction.

Carrollton Fire Chief Randy Tharp said the grant money will be used for operations and safety equipment.

“We’ll use it to replace some outdated equipment such as helmets, turnout gear and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus air packs,” Tharp said. “We’ve applied for a grant to replace this equipment for two years but the grant didn’t come through for us. It’s the first time we’ve received a FEMA grant and we’ve been applying for money since 2002. We’re very fortunate to get the grant this year.”

Tharp says the grant process is very extensive and competitive as fire departments nationwide are competing for the funding.

“You have to submit a grant application to a review planning committee,” he said. “There are several criteria they look for during the process. You have to have a very good reason to be requesting the money.”

“The fire department certainly had a need,” said Joan Moore, Executive Director of the Carroll County Community Development Corporation, who wrote the grant application.

“We started on this in March of 2008,” Moore said, “so it’s a very long process. FEMA started making weekly rounds of announcements in December” of grant money being awarded.

“I’m really happy the Community Development Corporation was able to help the fire department get this grant,” she added. “They were really in need of new equipment. It was a pleasure working with Randy through the whole process.”

Both Moore and Tharp said the equipment being replaced no longer met National Fire Protection Association and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

“The bulk of the equipment we replaced was purchased in 1997,” Tharp said. “NFTA guidelines recommend replacing helmets and turnout gear every 10 years. They changed the guidelines for the air packs in 2007 so we went ahead and replaced those to meet the new standards.”

“First response is always led by local government but, as we’ve seen many times, resources can quickly become exhausted,” said FEMA Regional Administrator Phil May. “One way to fix that is to put more resources in local hands before an emergency happens, and the fire grant programs do that very well.”

Nationally, the latest grants total nearly $16 million. The AFG program includes three kinds of awards: Fire Grants, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grants and Fire Prevention and Safety grants.

The fiscal year 2008 AFG awards, which are being distributed in phases, will ultimately provide about $500 million to fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations throughout the country.

FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism and other man-made disasters.