AFG-Bought Generator Supplies Power During Natural Disaster
WOOSTER, OH--Northern Ohio isn't typically known for treacherous weather and destructive tornadoes, but for the small town of Wooster, that all changed in September 2010.
The National Weather Service confirmed a category EF-2 tornado ripped through the region causing widespread damage and power outages to thousands of residents. The tornado had estimated speeds of 125 mph and traveled a path that was 200 yards wide and 12 miles long. The last time the Wooster area had been hit by a tornado was in November 2003.
"The tornado caused extensive damage throughout the area, impacting 140 structures in Wooster Township alone," said Wooster Township Fire Department Fire Chief Mark Del Propost. "The tornado passed within 300 yards of the Wooster Township Fire Department station, destroying power poles and other structures and causing electrical service interruption to the station."
The station lost power, and in the past, that would have meant an interruption in service calls and slower response times. However, the department had recently applied and received an AFG grant, and some of the funds were used to buy a Kohler 38KW natural gas generator with an automatic transfer switch. As soon as the tornado blew through the area, cutting off power, the generator kicked in.
"During the evening of September 16 and the following three days the generator functioned flawlessly and supplied the fire station with power to operate the station," Propost said. "This allowed rescue and recovery efforts to continue unimpeded by the electrical service grid damage."
The back-up generator was circa 1966 and was unreliable in operation, Propost added. When the city's power grid lines went down, the old generator often failed to work, which caused the department to be without electrical service.
The new generator was purchased and installed in June 2010, and the tornado ripped through just a few months later. The project involved the removal of the old generator unit. A new pad was placed with all piping installed for the new natural gas generator.
"The fire department responded to numerous calls for civilians trapped in structures, gas leaks, injuries and other emergency situations," Propost said. "We are grateful to the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program for the generator."
In addition to helping local residents, fire department crews also assisted the Ohio State University (OSU) campus in Wooster. A lab building at the OSU Agricultural Technical Institute was reduced to a pile of bricks. Equipment and greenhouses were destroyed. Cars were smashed and trees were uprooted.
"It (the generator) was called upon soon after installation and performed well, which aided the department to serve the community during the disaster," Propost said.
What They Bought With The Grant:
- Kohler 38KW natural gas generator
Department Vital Statistics
- Department Web Site: Wooster Township Fire & Rescue
- Grant: 2009 AFG (Operations and Safety)
- Grant Amount: $28,500.00
- Area Served: 54 square miles with a population of 8,500