CARBON HILL - The Carbon Hill Fire Department will apply for about $50,000 in grant money to obtain equipment.
The Carbon Hill City Council last week gave approval to make the application after Assistant Fire Chief Phillip Howard made a presentation to the council.
District 1 Councilman McClain Burrough, District 4 Councilman Chandler Gann and District 5 Councilman Jason Chambers were absent from the meeting, although Burrough walked in as the meeting was near conclusion.
"From 2017, we had a total of 39 fires and 211 man hours," he said. "Out of that, 10 of them were structure fires, three of them were vehicle fires, 19 brush fires, three weather calls and four motor vehicle collisions."
He said that was an average year, noting 46 were recorded in 2016 and this year 16 calls have been recorded already.
Recently required testing revealed that the department's composite versions of contained breathing apparatuses will no longer be usable after December, he said. That means 10 apparatuses and accessory equipment will be lost for the department.
Howard asked for permission to apply for the grant, noting they will go out of date likely before the department hears back on the grant.
"We need these because of the area we service and the events and the safety of our firemen," he said. "We have a lot of hazardous material we are facing from car fires to the railroad to the interstate to house fires. We need them so we can respond and we can work efficiently at these scenes."
The coverage area is 50 to 60 square miles, he said, noting the department also serves Kansas, which does not have its own fire department. Assistance is usually give to three or four other departments. Meanwhile, the department deals with an underground mine, a surface mine and two propane distribution centers.
With the grant - which Howard later said would require a minimal percentage match for the city — the department hopes to get about seven to eight harnesses and tanks, plus seven to eight spare bottles.
"That would adequately get us by," Howard said.
In addition, the department would this time make sure masks are fitted to the contours of the faces of firefighters, as firemen currently are using masks that don't fit properly. He said no one wants to use face masks that others have breathed into, and this grant would make sure each fireman has their own assigned mask. If they lose them, the fireman will have to pay to replace them.
Howard has already talked to a grant writer, with no fee to be paid if the department does not get the grant.
The paperwork will take three months to prepare, and will be submitted late this year.