A grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will help provide Rochester Hills firefighters with the "first line of defense" against some of the most dangerous situations they encounter.
The city's fire department received an $86,112 grant to purchase 104 sets of turnout gear, which is a firefighter's protective outer layer of clothing—pants, coats, boots, gloves and protective hoods.
“Turnout gear is the firefighter's first line of defense against the many hazards inherent to the job and must continually be updated for safety standards," fire chief Ron Crowell stated in a press release.
"In order for the department to provide the level of service our community deserves, it is important to provide the highest level of protection for the safety of our members. This grant will help ensure that our firefighters can operate safely."
This particular grant program was highly competitive, with about 18,000 annual applicants, said Tara Beatty, chief assistant and grant administrator for the city.
The National Fire Protection Association regulates the codes and regulations regarding the protective equipment and requires that all gear be replaced no more than every 10 years.
“The average age of our protective gear was over 8 years old and in need of replacement due to wear and tear,” Crowell said.
The new gear incorporates a blend of materials that are resistant to water, flames and heat; they are also insulating and moisture-wicking.
Additionally, the new equipment features a Drag Rescue Device, which is designed to provide a quickly deployed system to help rescue a downed firefighter.
“In these tough budget times, every dollar helps,” Mayor Bryan Barnett said. “This funding will provide for the safety of our firefighters as well as the safety of our residents.”
The city's fire department provides fire and EMS services through five fire stations throughout the city; it includes 24 full-time firefighter/paramedics, 74 paid on-call firefighter/EMTs and 16 EMTs.