The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and CHEMTREC are excited to announce that in honor of CHEMTREC’s 50th anniversary, five NVFC members have been awarded US$ 10,000 for their volunteer fire departments, through the 2021 CHEMTREC HELP (Hazmat Emergencies Local Preparedness) Awards.
Funding is provided to strengthen the fire department's hazardous materials incident response capabilities and increase local readiness for hazmat events.
2021 CHEMTREC HELP Awards winners:
- Gilsum Fire & Rescue (Gilsum, NH)
Gilsum Fire & Rescue was established in 1835. Its 12 active volunteer firefighters protect 825 residents, over 17 square miles area, in the southwest corner of North Hampshire. In the past year, a business with its headquarters in Gilsum has started to make hand sanitizer containing ethyl alcohol and store it in bulk on-site, so the fire department has to be ready in case an incident occurs.
Acquiring hazmat response equipment
The fire department will utilize the HELP Award to acquire hazmat response equipment, assist their mutual aid partners, attend training, and develop a response plan, so as to safely respond to any situation involving ethyl alcohol.
- Kirksville Volunteer Fire Department (Richmond, KY)
Kirksville Volunteer Fire Department (KVFD) is an all-volunteer, rural fire department that provides fire protection and rescue services to 14,000 people, over a 75 square miles response district, in Madison County, Kentucky.
Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program
KVFD covers the Central Kentucky Regional Airport and six natural gas transmission lines
KVFD covers the Central Kentucky Regional Airport and six natural gas transmission lines. The fire department is also a participant in the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, due to its proximity to the Blue Grass Army Depot, which is one of two facilities that store chemical weapons for the U.S.
KVFD responds, along with regional emergency response personnel, in the event of a chemical emergency. In addition, the fire department provides automatic aid and mutual aid to I-75, railroads, additional natural gas pipelines, commercial and healthcare facilities, a public university, and other facilities that fall within the Department of Homeland Security’s critical infrastructure sectors.
Gas monitors, calibration station, and Critical equipment
Funding from the HELP Award will be used to purchase gas monitors, a calibration station, supplemental supplies, absorbent socks, absorbent pads, a leak control kit, and other critical equipment, to help with their hazmat response, which can also be used by their mutual aid partners.
With the decline in local volunteers, the fire department has been successful in recruiting firefighters from Eastern Kentucky University’s student body, and currently, approximately 70 percent of its members are university students. This funding not only helps the district and those they serve but also the future of the fire service, by providing hands-on experience and training with equipment that student firefighters can take with them across the nation.
- Ladonia Volunteer Fire Department (Phenix City, AL)
Established in 1973, the Ladonia Volunteer Fire Department is an all-hazards agency, comprised of 18 dedicated volunteers, receiving an average of 1,300 service calls a year. Its community sits between Fort Benning, Georgia, and Auburn, Alabama, which makes it a crossroads for many hazardous materials traveling between the cities, such as explosives and manufacturing and agricultural chemicals. In their first due area, there are several facilities that utilize alcohol-based products in their manufacturing process.
Avail hazardous materials-related items
The HELP Award will allow the department to purchase several hazardous materials-related items, to improve response capabilities in their territory and automatic and mutual aid response areas. Items include gas detectors, binoculars, testing and calibration materials, a co-oximeter, new reference materials, and hazmat response supply consumables (e.g., plug, dyke, and absorbent pads).
- Shelbyville Fire Department (KY)
Shelbyville Fire Department is a combination department, with 35 volunteers and 21 paid firefighters. It is the only agency in the county, specifically trained to respond to weapons of mass destruction hazmat and contamination release (chemical, biological, or radiation), in its response area and is responsible for protecting numerous critical infrastructures within the jurisdiction.
These include I-64, a high transportation corridor; five schools within city limits and mutual aid for seven additional schools, the KY National Guard Armory, railroads, pipelines, mutual aid for the main distribution hub for the electrical grid covering the state, mutual aid for an outlet mall containing 80 stores, approximately 70 industrial facilities, water and sewer treatment plants, propane and bulk storage facilities, a distillery, one large agricultural facility that stores and transports anhydrous ammonia, and more.
Purchasing meters and decontamination equipment
Funding from the HELP Award will be utilized to purchase meters, weather kit, binoculars, and decontamination equipment that will help protect against a broad range of threats and will greatly enhance the capability and efficiency of the department to respond to a hazardous materials release.
- Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department (Greeneville, TN)
The Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department was established in 1952. Its 20 volunteer firefighters serve a population of 10,000 over 95 miles and respond to an average of 300 calls each year. Tusculum is the home of the oldest university in the US State of Tennessee.
The fire department’s first-due area includes railroads, highways, a manufacturer of penny blanks for the U.S. Mint
The fire department’s first-due area includes railroads, highways, a manufacturer of penny blanks for the U.S. Mint (which uses cyanide and chlorine), five schools, multiple mental healthcare facilities, two post offices, an airport, two electrical substations, a sewer plant, light industrial facilities, and more.
Advanced-level decontamination and air monitoring equipment
The HELP Award will allow the department to invest in advanced-level decontamination and air monitoring equipment, and SCBA masks and cylinders, to support their volunteers in responding. This will set the basis for building upon the hazmat discipline for future growth in the department’s services.
This is the third year that CHEMTREC and the NVFC have partnered to offer the HELP Awards to volunteer fire departments. To date, nine departments have received a total of US$ 85,000 to support their hazmat preparedness and response efforts.