Fire gear only has a shelf life of 10 years.
It doesn’t go moldy or stale, but it does begin to offer less protection to the person wearing it.
And the last thing a firefighter wants to worry about inside a burning building is the integrity of his or her equipment.
That’s why Raymond Phair, the chief of the Mooers Fire Department, applied for a grant to help defray the cost of buying new turnout gear for his volunteer team.
“This is really a safety issue,” Phair said. “The interior guys need the best equipment because they’re in the most hazardous environment.”
Two members of the Fire Department, Mark Trombly and Lola Miller, both work at Georgia Pacific in Plattsburgh and suggested Phair apply for the company’s Bucket Brigade grant.
Sue Roberts, another member of the fire department, wrote the grant, and the department was awarded $5,000 Oct. 22.
The money will go toward buying ten new sets of turnout gear consisting of helmets, jackets, gloves, boots, pants and Nomex hoods.
Each set costs about $2,000, and the fire department will kick in the rest of the cost.
Karen Cole, communications manager for Georgia Pacific, said the grant started in 2006.
The main requirement for receiving the grant is that the fire department has to be in a community near a Georgia Pacific Plant.
“We try to look at all the applicants and respond to the ones with the most basic needs,” Cole said.
Safety gear, like turnout gear, is considered top priority, but grant money can be awarded for things like radios too.
This year Georgia Pacific donated about $155,000 to 25 fire departments across 15 states. Most received between $5,000 and $10,000.
It is the first time a department in the North Country has received the grant.
Georgia Pacific awards departments that don’t receive the Bucket Brigade Grant a membership to the National Volunteer Fire Council, an online community for volunteer fire departments that offers resources on how to write grants and other information.
“For us, it’s important to support the very people who are helping to protect our communities,” Cole said. “If the community does well, Georgia Pacific does well. We live in this community too.”