Photo by Austin Sanderson
Fire Chief Randy Nelson (left) and Drew Mortland show a piece of turnout gear that is going to be replaced thanks to a grant through the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company.
EAST ALTON — The East Alton Fire Department recently was awarded a grant through the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company’s Heritage Program.
This is exciting news when one realizes it is no cheap task to buy the gear and equipment firefighters need to do their jobs. The department plans on using the money to purchase turnout gear to help them better serve East Alton and surrounding areas.
Turnout gear is considered general purpose and made to order. Pants and coats need to fit the firefighter like a tailored suit. That way there are no pinches or loose hanging fabric to hinder a firefighter when they are in the heat of the situation.
“Making sure the gear fits is a big deal,” East Alton Fire Chief Randy Nelson said.
The gear East Alton is purchasing is made by Morning Pride. They are purchasing three new sets at a cost of roughly $6,600. Because the gear is made to order and custom-fitted, it takes 90 to 120 days to manufacture. The department is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the gear.
“We are incredibly excited,” Nelson said.
The department enjoys the Morning Pride gear because it provides maximum heat protection while protecting firefighters from dehydration and body stress.
With 2,073 calls in 2014 and 36 working structure fires on average, the East Alton Fire Department and their gear see quite a bit of action. The National Fire Protection Association writes the standards and guidelines for the maintenance of firefighting gear. The current guideline states turnout gear should be used only 10 years so firefighters won’t have worn-out and potentially life threatening equipment. But for many departments, the cost of replacing turnout gear is prohibitive. The East Alton Fire Department is planning to purchase a few complete suits every three years.
“We are trying to make a little wriggle room,” Nelson said.
East Alton firefighters say they are grateful to the Heritage Program and the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, but after they received their grant the program was defunded. With 30 sets of gear they must maintain, this will put even more stress on the department.
“We would like to give thanks to the Fireman’s Fund,” Nelson said. “But now we will have to look for new sources of funding.”