COLUMBUS, OH - More than 1,500 Ohio firefighters have benefited from a grant program that provides their departments with personal protective equipment for fighting wildland fires, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
Since 2002, 10 complete equipment sets have been awarded to each of 157 local fire departments. Each set, worth $415, consists of flame-retardant pants and shirt, hardhat, fire shelter, gloves and goggles. Recent studies of firefighter safety indicate the importance of wearing this type of equipment.
"Most of the more than 1,000 wildland fires that occur in Ohio annually are battled by rural and volunteer fire departments," said John Dorka, chief of the Division of Forestry. "However, very few of these departments have the funds to purchase wildland fire equipment. Clothing provided through this grant offers increased protection for wildland firefighters without causing undue heat stress or fatigue." Ohio's Wildland Personal Protective Equipment Grant Program is administered by the ODNR Division of Forestry. The division purchases the equipment with funds from the National Fire Plan portion of the federal Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) grant program. VFA funds aredesigned to assist fire departments that serve populations with less than 10,000 people.
The VFA grant applications are made available each year in April and must be completed and returned by June. Fire departments interested in additional information or in participating in the program should contact Rick Maier at 740-773-1574.