A recent state grant will allow at least one Lincoln County fire department to replace fire gear that is more than a decade old, fire officials said.
The North Carolina Department of Insurance Office of the State Fire Marshal matched $30,000 in funds from South Fork Volunteer Fire Department for new protective gear, according to an agency press release.
The local department plans to use the $60,000 to purchase new pants, coats, boots, hoods, helmets, gloves and face masks necessary for firefighters to wear during emergency situations.
South Fork currently has more than 30 volunteer firefighters, and most of the agency’s protective gear is not only between 10 and 15 years old but also doesn’t fit properly and is falling apart, fire officials said.
Because of the high cost for just one complete set of gear, anywhere between $4,000 and $5,000, volunteer agencies aren’t always able to maintain budgets that allow for such pricey items.
According to Asst. Chief Thomas Raper, the gear is vital for providing adequate firefighter safety, and fire officials hope to procure around 15 new sets of protective equipment as soon as possible.
State funding in 2011 allowed South Fork to purchase five new sets.
The National Fire Protection Association and Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) requires firefighters wear protective gear on the job.