Firefighters in one Bossier Parish rural fire department will soon be sporting new bunker gear, thanks to a federal grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG) targeting improved operations and safety.
Northeast Bossier Fire District 5 in Plain Dealing will receive $73,810 in grant funds, according to Fire Chief Jason Vaughan. District 5 is one of eight Louisiana fire departments that will receive grant money totaling more than $621,000.
U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), sent letters to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security advocating for Louisiana fire departments applying for these grants.
“Firefighters work long hours and often risk their lives to save others. Because of this funding, more men and women will have better equipment, improving their safety and effectiveness as they do their jobs and serve our communities,” Cassidy said.
“We’ll be getting new coats, pants, helmets and boots for our firefighters. When we applied for the money we wanted to get items for the safety and protection of our people,” Vaughan said.
Vaughan said the cost of outfitting one firefighter with new gear ranges around $3,000. Gear for today’s firefighters also sports new safety features, thanks to technological advances.
“One thing this new gear will do is protect firefighters from carcinogens, especially those found in the smoke of a burning structure,” he said. “It’s also much lighter and more flexible than the older gear.”
Also important is the savings to District 5 the grant will provide. Usually, Vaughan said, the department provides funds to equip firefighters with the necessary gear.
“This is money that will not have to come out of our budget and that’s very important to a small, rural fire department like ours,” he said. “We’re limited in funding and anytime we have a chance to get this kind of money we’re going to go for it.”
In addition to Plain Dealing’s District 5, AFG grants were also awarded to:
- $26,586: Arnaudville Volunteer Fire Department (Arnaudville).
- $97,510: Butte LaRose Volunteer Fire Department (Breaux Bridge).
- $198,096: City of Covington Fire Department (Covington).
- $48,572: Delhi Fire Department (Delhi).
- $7,681: Ruston Fire Department (Ruston).
- $78,605: Cade Volunteer Fire Department (St. Martinville).
- $91,062: Catahoula Volunteer Fire Department (St. Martinville).