TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer
One group of first responders in Laurel County is getting a wish fulfilled thanks to some aid from Washington that will go towards making their job safer.
It goes to the Lily Volunteer Fire Department who learned Wednesday they will be awarded $72,000 in FEMA grant money to buy new safety gear.
Plans are for the department to use that money to purchase eight new self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units with spare cylinders and masks. In addition, they will be able to replace some buffer gear that was destroyed in a house fire they were recently called to.
Lily VFD Chief Paul Collins pointed out they applied for the grant over a year ago, and they waited eagerly for the outcome.
“It was a blessing to get this grant. It costs so much to buy the SCBAs. We’ve waited to hear the news and a couple of months have passed before we got the call today from Congressman Rogers’ field representative, Danielle Smoot. Immediately, I called our Assistant Chief, Greg Rains, and Major J. R. Pearce and they all just felt wonderful about getting the grant,” Collins said in a phone interview Wednesday evening.
He added the department hopes to buy the equipment later this spring.
The money comes from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, through their Assistance to Firefighters Grants, or AFG’s. FEMA is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Word of the grant going to the fire department came from U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers, who represents Kentucky’s 5th District.
“Whether it’s responding to a traffic accident, a medical emergency, or a burning building, modern equipment is essential for our first responders to do their jobs efficiently,” Rogers said Wednesday in a statement from his Washington office.
“This federal investment will go a long way towards increasing the safety of our brave firefighters in the Lily community and in Laurel County.”
According to FEMA, the firefighters’ grants help meet both firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and non-affiliated emergency medical service organizations. The grants help them get critically-needed equipment, emergency vehicles, protective gear, training and other resources, and have do so since 2011.