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Posted October 5, 2006 EST

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Clinton Volunteer Fire Department Gets $84K Grant
The Clinton District Volunteer Fire Department, Company 15, will be getting new gear for its firefighters by the end of this year. The department, located on Grafton Road, is the latest county unit to benefit from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program administered by the Department of Homeland Security.

The $83,980 grant will go to replace 17 outdated sets of bunker gear -- the boots, coats, pants and helmets firefighters wear -- Fire Chief Mark Shipley said Thursday. Word of the grant approval arrived in the form of news releases from Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va. Shipley said he had not gotten any official notice.

The bunker gear, Shipley said, "has not been updated in years and years." The department applied for more than $93,000, enough for 20 suits, he said. In addition to the personal protective gear, the grant will pay for state-of-the-art air packs for the trucks, replacing outdated packs.

Firefighters wear these when they go inside burning houses. "This is my first year as chief," Shipley said. "I've been trying to raise money and get grant money to buy gear. It's so outdated, it makes a chief very concerned to put his people in a burning building when you know you don't have the best equipment available.

Once we get formal notification from the grant office, we can place our order. I hope we can have it delivered in 60 days." Clinton District has 18 volunteers who regularly turn out for fires.

Shipley said he can muster another dozen for a major fire. The department serves U.S. 119 and W.Va. 73 south of Morgantown, and areas off those roads. The grant is good news for the department, said David Bean, president of the Monongalia County Fireman's Association. and a member of the Granville Volunteer Fire Department.

"That's the big thing, safety for the guys," he said. Updated air packs have additional safety devices on them, while the bunker gear will offer better protection. The outfits withstand more heat, are not as heavy and offer better thermal protection, he said.

The shells are lighter and give better protection. Bean said Star City, Granville, River Road, Cool Springs, Triune-Halleck, Westover and Cheat Lake VFDs have received money through the program.

This is more than half of the VFDs serving Monongalia County, something Bean calls a good percentage. But he wants to see all 12 departments benefiting from the grant program. The grant Web site reported these area VFDs receiving grants under the 2005 cycle, which ended Sept. 30:

Monongalia County: Morgantown Fire Department, $124,541; Triune-Halleck VFD, $25,299; Cool Springs VFD, $107,227; and Westover VFD, $70,300. Marion County: Barrackville VFD, $62,022; and Winfield District VFD, $20,330. Preston County: Albright VFD, $64,412; Bruceton-Brandonville VFD, $61,510; Fellowsville VFD, at Tunnelton, $73,598; and Mount Grove VFD, at Horse Shoe Run, $171,000 toward a $180,000 vehicle. Taylor County: Flemington VFD, $166,250 toward a $175,000 vehicle.

For Fiscal Year 2006, grants totaling about $485 million will be awarded in phases throughout the year. The program is administered by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness.

Written by The Dominion Post

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