This section is for fire departments and nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Service organizations and contains Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) "success" stories. The stories demonstrate how AFG awards have improved the safety of firefighters and the communities that they serve.
Grant Helps Department Become NFPA-Compliant
Lee County Fire Department
BISHOPVILLE, SC -- The AFG grant has helped to meet the needs of Lee County's growing, rural fire department.
The Department has seven stations that responsible for protecting 412 square miles, including Interstate 20, which divides the county in half. During the past five years, Lee County's volunteer force has grown from 45 volunteers to 100 volunteers, but the department's funding has not increased at the same rate. They receive an average of 550 calls per year, with about 200 being brush fire calls and 100 involving structure fires. Lee County provides mutual aid to surrounding South Carolina counties.
"The grant has made a tremendous impact on the department," said A.D. Atkinson, Chief of the Lee County Fire Department. "We lacked basic resources like SCBAs and PASS devices, so it has been a great help. Our goal is to become OSHA and NFPA compliant, and with the help of the grant, we are almost there."
Before receiving the grant, only 4 percent of Lee County's firefighters had their own SCBA facepieces and 25 percent had access to spare air cylinders. With the grant funds, now all of the volunteers have been equipped with their own facepieces and all have access to spare air cylinders. The percentage of volunteers equipped with PASS devices also increased from 25 percent to 37 percent with the help of the grant.
With Interstate 20 stretching across their County, the members have to be prepared to deal with fuel spills resulting from truck accidents. Before receiving the grant, only 33 percent of their hazmat team members were equipped with encapsulated hazmat suits. The grant has made it possible for to purchase enough suits to properly outfit their entire hazmat team.
The Department also used grant funds to partially refurbish a training room at the headquarters in Bishopville. Lee County shares the training space with local police and EMS providers.
"Prior to having the new training room, we had to use station bays to conduct trainings with the accompanying street noise," Atkinson said.
"The grant has made a big difference to our Department," Atkinson added. "We would not have been able to buy this equipment without it."
What They Bought With The Grant:
- Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)
- SCBA Facepieces
- Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) Devices
- Spare Cylinders
- Encapsulated, Level A Hazmat Suits
- Refurbishment of Training Room