CROCKER, Mo. (Dec. 6, 2008) — For the sixth year in a row, the Crocker Rural Fire Protection District has received a special federal grant to upgrade fire equipment.
This year’s $48,000 grant will help Crocker replace its aging fire hoses, many of which date back to the 1970s, according to Fire Capt. Robert Ishmael. That’s a major addition to the annual $75,000 budget for the 35-member all-volunteer department.
“We are going to be replacing all of our hose on every truck, as well as a gear wash machine and a generator for our main station,” Ishmael said.
Fire hoses are thick and sturdy enough to carry large volumes of water, but because heat and flame can damage hoses, they need to be checked regularly to make sure they won’t burst on a fire scene. Bursting happened just last month at a gunpowder-fed blaze on BB Highway west of Crocker, Ishmael said.
“We do hose testing throughout each year and we usually lose between three to five sections per test,” Ishmael said. “Without this grant we can’t afford to replace all of it at one time.”
The new supply line hoses will be four inches rather than three inches in diameter, he said.
“This means that we can fight bigger sized fires,” Ishmael said. “This brings us up to do date and we couldn’t do it without the grant money.”
The four-inch diameter hoses will connect to the hoses of other larger neighboring departments which send their engines and tankers on mutual aid calls to Crocker, Ishmael said.
“Before we were having to use adaptors and everything else,” Ishmael said. “Now we can marry up to our mutual aid companies faster, quicker, and what it does from a hydrant is it gives us a larger quantity of water to come to our truck.”
Crocker’s success in obtaining fire grants is partly good luck but mostly good planning and grant writing, Ishmael said, despite a significant reduction in the amount of federal funds available for the fire grants that has made them much more competitive.
“We don’t ask for the entire world; we ask for what we need,” Ishmael said.
“Basically the aid to firefighters grant for the last six years has brought us up to the 21st century; without that we wouldn’t have certain trucks, we wouldn’t have certain equipment, we would be 20 years back,” Ishmael said. “The smaller agencies, we cannot afford with the money we get from the public on our tax base … insurance, truck payments, gasoline fuel costs and everything else. We cannot afford to buy equipment other than just the basics."
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