>> PROJECT DESCRIPTION

 

     In 2002 Ferrum (Virginia) Volunteer Fire Department (FVFD) used funding from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) to purchase 12 new self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), 12 additional spare bottles, a SCBA mask for each member that was properly fitted and tested, and a thermal imaging camera. This was the first real step toward our goal of acquiring & maintaining quality NFPA compliant equipment & tools to allow our members to do their jobs as quickly and safely as possible.

 

     For the 2005 Assistance to Firefighters Grant cycle, FVFD is requesting $79,670 worth of federal funding toward $83,863 worth of additional equipment to continue this goal. We plan to supply the remaining $4,193 from our own cash reserves.

 

The equipment we are requesting is divided into 2 basic project areas.

 

Project 1: Personal Protective Equipment. Total Cost $67,250

Project 2: Miscellaneous Equipment.       Total Cost $16,613

 

 

Project 1 – Personal Protective Equipment:

 

     This project includes the purchase of a full set of fitted structural turn out gear (TOG) for each of our 25 active members. This gear will include a Helmet, Nomex Hood, Coat, Pants with suspenders, Gloves, and Boots. Additionally it will include a personal hand light for each member and a gear bag to store & protect the gear when not in use.

 

Project 2 - Miscellaneous Equipment:

 

     This project is for new equipment for use in 2 basic areas, Water Supply Operations and RIT / general fire fighter safety.

 

     For water supply operations we are requesting portable drop tanks, floating strainers, and various adapters, fittings, and appliances that will allow us to improve our own water shuttle operations as well as aid us in being inter-operable with our mutual aid agencies.

 

     For RIT / General Safety we are requesting a K-12 saw, extra blades, various forcible entry tools we do not currently possess, 2 positive pressure ventilation fans, 1 ladder system, and 4 sets of pop up traffic cones.

 

 

>> FINANCIAL NEED

 

     FVFD has an annual operating budget of roughly $25,000. Of that amount 80% is supplied from county funds. The remainder is made up from donations and fund raisers. As of 1 January, 2005 we have $35,240.79 total cash on hand. Our largest single fund raiser in 2004 netted us $2,281. In addition to our normal day to day operational expenses, we are now suddenly faced with major repair work on our 1985 Pumper. It has failed its most recent pump certification test by only pumping 700 of its rated 1000 gallons per minute capacity. At this point there is still some question as to whether a rebuild will even be possible given the age of the pump or if we will have to do a total pump replacement. Currently the best case scenario of a simple pump rebuild is estimated to be a roughly $4,000 expense.

 

     If we are fortunate enough to receive this grant funding and assuming no other sources of additional funding for 2005, we would be left with a cash reserve of less than $2,100 after factoring out our normal budget, the repair work to our pumper, and our portion of this project funding. This leaves us almost no “safety net” should another unforeseen major expense occur.

 

 

>> COST/BENEFIT

 

     In 2004, members of FVFD took part in various training classes such as “MAYDAY, Firefighter Down!”, “Rural Water Supply”, and “Basic Pump Operations”. Using the knowledge and experience gained in these classes, the members sat down and identified weak points in our current operations. They then discussed ways to correct these weak points or at least lessen their impact on our operations. As a result of these meetings & studies this list of equipment was created.

 

     The first major benefit of almost every item in this grant is Firefighter Safety. Everything here from PPE to hose fittings plays some role in allowing our members to perform a dangerous job in as safe a manner as possible.

 

Specific benefits of Project 1 – PPE:

 

     Currently FVFD has front line firefighters who are wearing gear that is 9 to 10 years old. Some of our support members have gear that is even older. During the Firefighter Down training we learned that PPE plays a major role not only in firefighter survivability but also in keeping a firefighter out of a bad situation to begin with.

 

     Funding this project would allow us to equip each of our FF-I (and higher) certified members with new custom fitted lightweight gear that meets current NFPA 1971 standards and a personal hand light. Failure to fund this project will keep us in gear that is heavy / bulky, outdated, worn, and otherwise obsolete.

 

 

Specific benefits of Project 2 – Misc. Equipment:

 

     RIT / General Safety Equipment

 

K-12 Saw & blades: Our current ventilation equipment is limited to two chain saws and 1 cordless reciprocating saw. After a thorough study of the various types of buildings in our area we determined that we do not posses the required tools to perform ventilation and/or gain emergency access to structures made with metal or masonry siding / roofing material. The addition of a K-12 saw to our tool compliment would give us the ability to do these things which in turn increases firefighter safety as well as safety of any trapped occupants.

 

PPV Fans: Our current fans are older electric “smoke ejector” box fans and due to the configuration of our trucks (lack of A/C power source) these are rendered useless on all but minor fires. The addition of PPV fans will benefit in numerous ways. They will allow us to actually perform forced (mechanical) ventilation in situations where we previously had to rely on natural methods of ventilation. This ability to now effectively ventilate a structure will give our personnel a safer operating environment as well as providing a more tenable environment to any person (civilian or firefighter) entrapped in the structure until they can be located & rescued.

 

Misc. Hand Tools: The various hand tools will allow us to gain access to victims faster than before. It will also give us enough basic hand tools so that each interior firefighter will be able to carry a tool of some sort. This falls under the RIT heading by allowing the firefighter to self rescue before becoming incapacitated. It will also be the basis upon which a full RIT tool cache will be built.

 

Ladder System: The ladder system we are requesting is a multi-piece combination ladder system capable of becoming both a straight & A Frame style ladder. It will be of great benefit in the majority of buildings in our service area. Due to the age and nature of construction of these buildings they have very narrow hallways and limited to no attic access making the use of conventional straight ladders (including the folding attic ladder) inside the structure impossible. At present we are either dependant on the home owner to have an A-Frame ladder we can use or we simply use sheer muscle to hoist persons into the attic area. Neither of these actions is preferred and the latter is very unsafe in several ways. This ladder system will give us 100% safe & reliable access to attic hatches and other hard to reach places every time.

 

Pop-Up Cones: These are a cloth covered wire spring style 28” tall traffic cones with dual bands of 2” reflective material. They are designed to collapse and be stored six to a bag in less storage space that a single conventional 28” cone would require. The uses & safety benefits of traffic cones are quite numerous and obvious. Due to limited storage space on our current apparatus we have never been able to carry cones and have relied solely on the use of the apparatus warning lights and/or road flares. By adding these to our current equipment, we will be able to create safer scenes for our members and the general public and we will be able to do this in a wider array of conditions where flares are not practical or safe.

 

Water Supply Equipment: We found through first hand experience with other agencies’ equipment that there are some very simple things we can do to improve our ability to locate & utilize rural water sources in our district. We also identified vital equipment (couplings, adapters, etc.) we need to be interoperable with our mutual aid agencies. To put it quite simply, we can’t use the water they bring us if we can’t get it from their trucks to ours. Specifically we are asking for 2 portable drop tanks & draft hose supports, 2 clappered siamese, a Leader Line Wye, and several various fittings and adapters. To state the benefits of each piece of equipment would require more space that is practical here, so in simple form these items will improve our ability to acquire, transport, and deliver water in a safer and more efficient manner. This translates to a more stable & dependable water supply at the scene of the fire which in turn means safer working conditions for our firefighters.

 

 

>> STATEMENT OF EFFECT

 

Our community is growing, and as it grows so does the need for better Fire protection. Our single largest “customer” is Ferrum College. Its campus and grounds cover roughly 700 acres. This year they are just beginning the largest single construction & renovation project since the school was established in 1913. They will be adding 2 new Residence Halls and a new 250 seat conference center as well as renovating several of the older buildings on campus. This new construction alone will present for a sizable increase in hazard potential for FVFD, the Ferrum College community, and the local citizenry.

 

The items contained in this grant were not picked randomly from thin air; neither did anyone simply pick out the things that looked good from some catalog. In 2004 the members of FVFD went out and trained, became educated on ways to perform their jobs better, and sat down and identified the specific tools they lacked to accomplish these jobs.

 

The one common underlying thread that runs through each item requested is Firefighter Safety. Everything from newer lighter PPE to the various adapters & fittings all play some roll in allowing us to perform in a safer and more efficient manner.

 

The PPE will increase firefighter safety not only by virtue of its better materials & design, but also due to the fact that it is lighter and more breathable. This has a direct impact on reducing physical stress which has been proven to be a factor in fire ground related cardiac arrest (the number 1 fire ground killer to date).

 

The K-12 saw, PPV fans, hand tools, cones, and ladder will all contribute directly to creating a safer working environment for our firefighters as well as to any potential victim. It will also give us the ability to perform basic suppression & rescue duties that we currently can not do because of the lack of this equipment.

 

The various components of the Water Supply project will all impact how well we can find, use, deliver, and/or share water with mutual aid agencies. All of these facets of the water supply component of fire suppression operations have a very large impact on our firefighters and the community. By increasing the amount & availability of our water supply we can then provide a safer environment for firefighters and civilians alike. We can achieve faster knock down because we will have more water available and will not be forced to ration or conserve it as we do now. We will also be able to access water sources closer to the fire scene. This also provides a safety component to firefighters and civilians as it reduces the distance required to shuttle water which in turn reduces the likelihood of a vehicle accident involving fire apparatus and/or civilians.

 

The greatest & often times most overlooked direct affect on day to day operations that the equipment in this grant would provide would be confidence. This new equipment would give our members the confidence of knowing that they are going into a hazardous situation armed with the best personal protective equipment that we can provide, and that they are backed up with all the necessary fire ground equipment they need to do their jobs safely and quickly. This is the type of confidence that will let them focus on the task at hand and not be distracted by things like “Do I need to conserve water till the next tanker gets here?”, “Will we run out of water when I need it most?”, “How am I going to ventilate an all metal building?”, or “I wonder how much more stress this old coat will take?”

 

Our community then benefits because we can now provide them with a better equipped and better performing fire department. We increase the safety to the citizens we protect by providing them with a higher quality of service while at the same time trying to minimize the negative impact that the delivery of that service sometime causes (e.g. MVA’s during water shuttle operations).