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Granger receives homeland security grant of $49,000

GRANGER - Last Friday, the Granger Fire Department received a grant of $49,081 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

This is the second grant the Granger department has received from that source. In 2004, $250,000 was received for purchase of a new fire truck that is sitting in Seattle this week awaiting pickup by department personnel.

The new grant, to which the city was required to add 2 percent, will be used to purchase complete turnout gear for the department's 22 volunteer firefighters, according to Granger Fire Chief Kenneth Shipman.

"The project we submitted (for grant consideration) was to upgrade our fire protective clothing," said Shipman, who is unpaid chief of Granger's all-volunteer department whose full-time job is Battalion Chief for Fire District #5.

In addition to replacing the turnout gear of boots, pants, coat, helmet, hood and gloves firefighters use to battle structural fires, the money will also buy 22 outfits suitable for fighting wild land fires.

"We haven't had much wild land protective gear, which is much lighter and made to be out in 100 degree heat," said Shipman. "And it's pretty hard to climb a hill wearing the heavier turnout gear."

Those outfits will also include eye protection and fire shelters, under which firefighters can crouch if they are overtaken by wild fire.

"The shelters look like small, aluminum tents and are very expensive," said Shipman, adding that the shelters can save lives, as was proven several years ago when a forest fire trapped firefighters, who took refuge within a shelter and survived.

Every one of the 22 volunteers will be equipped with these shelters, and those who live at a distance from the Granger station and usually drive their own vehicles to fires will carry all their personal equipment with them. Others, who report to the station to respond to fires, will store their equipment at the station.

The new gear has an expected life of five to seven years, Shipman said.

"This is a real god-send to us," said Shipman.

Granger's department was one of three in Washington to receive the awards for operations and safety measures. Whatcom County Fire District #14 in Sumas received $81,510 and Hoquiam Fire Department in Hoquiam received $49,164.

Homeland Security awarded 58 grants to fire departments throughout the United States in the 14th round of the 2005 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG).

The 14th round provided more than $5,618,742.

According to an announcement made by Homeland Security, the money was given to help local fire departments and emergency medical services organizations purchase or receive training in first responder health and safety programs, equipment and response vehicles.

The AFG program will issue about 5,500 awards worth $600 million in direct assistance to firefighters and first responders throughout the country.

"We recognize the importance of the Fire Act Grants to our nation's fire departments and we will continue to work closely with the fire service community to meet their needs," said Matt Mayer, acting executive director of the Office of Grants and Training (G&T), which administers the AFG program in cooperation with the department's United States Fire Administration.

"The federal government continues to support the critical work of our nation's firefighters by ensuring departments attain a basic capability level through the competitive Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program," said Charlie Dickinson, deputy administrator of the Homeland Security's United States Fire Administration.

G&T is the principal federal agency responsible for the preparedness of the United States for acts of terrorism, including coordinating preparedness efforts at the federal level and working with all state, local, tribal, parish and private sector emergency response providers on all matters pertaining to combating terrorism, including training, exercises and equipment support.

The United States Fire Administration is a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within the Department of Homeland Security.

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