Fire Department Seeks Grant to Replace Aging Equipment

The Anniston Fire Department is seeking to fund the cost of replacing aging equipment through a state grant. Fire Chief Chris Collins says that, although he’s new to grant writing, this was an opportunity that was too good to pass up.

At 15 years of age, many of the Department’s self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) used for emergency hazardous materials responses have become obsolete and must be replaced. Once funded by CSEPP (Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Plan) funds during the days of chemical weapons destruction, the units must now be replaced using taxpayer dollars. The grant would help lessen that burden.

Collins says he learned of the grant via an e-mail from the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency which was sent to public safety agencies throughout Calhoun County. The grant is awarded through the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency of Homeland Security. A unique category in the grant addressing Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE)  prevention, detection and response opened the door for the Anniston Fire Department to pursue replacing its SCBA, which are CBRN compliant devices.

 

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Lt. Poole examines a SCBA unit that would be replaced with grant funds.

Whereas CBRN emergencies differ from HAZMAT emergencies in scope and intent (CBRN can affect mass populations and are considered intentional and malicious) the SCBA used to respond to them are the same; and having them on hand and up-to-date prepares an emergency response department for either event.

 

The SCBA are used with Level A and Level B Hazmat Personal Protective Equipment. Level A features a fully encapsulated vapor protection suit (full body protection) with Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), inner chemical resistant gloves, chemical resistant safety boots and two way radio communications.

Level B provides the same respiratory protection but less skin or outer body protection. The chemical protective suit provides liquid splash protection but no protection against vapors. HAZMAT emergencies require personnel to spend considerably longer periods of time engaged in containment and clean-up operations as well as decontamination. SCBA units worn when fighting structural fires allow for 45 minutes of air whereas units for HAZMAT operations allow for extended periods of activity up to 60 minutes. The additional 15 minutes are critical when fire fighters go through decontamination procedures. New SCBA units are also lighter and technologically advanced compared to older units, and the masks are more ergonomically designed.

The AFD is seeking $49,132.00 in grant funds to replace six SCBA units, 15 air cylinders, a charging station and an adapter for re-filling cylinders—half of what the department originally had. Collins says one SCBA system cost over $7,000.

The department recently purchased $31,880.00 worth of cylinders out of the regular FY17 budget and is working to replace all of them. Whereas the original concern was an emergency related to chemical weapons disposal, Collins says that the need has changed. The Calhoun County Hazardous Materials Team, which was a partner agency in the past, disbanded at the end of 2015. “Anniston is now a agency charged with responding to any HAZMAT situation involving Mutual Aid partners in our County.”

The grant was submitted September 5 to the Calhoun County EMA. After review, it will be sent to the State level. Collins hopes Anniston’s odds are good considering that the AFD provides service to multiple jurisdictions. If the grant is not awarded to Anniston, Collins’ backup plan to replace the units is to set money aside from the Department’s 5-year capital outlay. “Ultimately,” says Collins, “We don’t have a choice. Those units must be replaced.”

Grant awardees could be notified as early as the end of 2017.

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Grill Safety and a Recipe to Practice!

Fire in the grill is a welcome sight at the family cookout. But fire anywhere else can make your summer kick-off barbecue memorable for all the wrong reasons. Apply the following tips for safe grilling, then practice with a delicious Mexican corn recipe:

Continue reading Grill Safety and a Recipe to Practice!

Solutions to U.S. 431/Henry Road Corridor Discussed

City personnel from police, fire, engineering and city planning departments, Jack Draper, Mayor of Anniston, Millie Harris, Ward 4 Council Person, and representatives from Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and the trucking industry met Monday, July 10, to discuss measures to improve the corridor of U.S. 431/McClellan Veterans Memorial Parkway from Henry Road to the Coleman/Choccolocco Road intersection where another fatal accident occurred on Friday, July 7.

ALDOT has been involved in an engineering study of the U.S. 431 corridor for the past several months, and today ALDOT representatives were able to address several solutions proposed by the group. City Manager Kent Davis, who had called the meeting of city management personnel and others, urged “swift and immediate action.” ALDOT agreed to expedite the engineering study, and proposed intermediate and long range phases of improvements.

Afterward, Davis said many of the ideas that were discussed came from the citizens who live and work near the intersection or drive through it regularly, including comments left on social media for the City’s consideration.

Davis explained, “These are the people that are witnessing the problems and seeing the patterns. I want them to know that City Hall is taking this seriously. I want to tell them, ‘Here’s what we are going to do, and here is what ALDOT is going to do.’”

Over the next two days, ALDOT engineers will be on site at the intersection evaluating the impact of making the immediate actions that were suggested during the meeting today. These include changes to traffic signalization timing and placement and design of road signage.

 

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ALDOT employees at the Coleman/Choccolocco Roads and U.S. 431 intersection on Tuesday, July 12.

 

City of Anniston Police Chief Shane Denham said the Department had increased patrols of the U.S. 431 corridor and intersection prior to the most recent accident, and that motorists can expect to see an even stronger police presence along the corridor. The Department’s investigation of the July 7 fatal accident is ongoing.

These are the people that are witnessing the problems and seeing the patterns. I want them to know that City Hall is taking this seriously.

— Anniston City Manager Kent Davis

Over the next two weeks, ALDOT will study the corridor of U.S. 431 from the Henry Road junction to the Choccolocco/Coleman Roads intersection with the goal of producing intermediate solutions that can be made within a month. ALDOT explained that long range improvements will be more complex and will require research into seasonal traffic patterns, topography and environmental conditions. No timeline was given for the long range phase.

Jack Draper, Mayor of Anniston said he was pleased with ALDOT’s willingness to work with city of Anniston representatives. “First, our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families of last Friday’s accident,” said Draper. “Today, we put everything on the table. No idea was off limits.”

 

It’s a “Commit to Health” Summer in Anniston!

Anniston Parks and Recreation has been busy with our Commit To Health summer! As part of our Healthy Out of School Time grant from the National Recreation and Parks Association, all community centers and the Aquatic and Fitness Center are now Commit To Health sites. Each site promotes healthy living through healthy eating and physical activity.

June was Berries and Peppers month. Day Camps at Hodges Community Center and the Aquatic and Fitness Center enjoyed various activities from “Red Pepper Green Pepper” to Tasty Treats to try new foods. In July we will be learning about tropical fruits and melons.

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For more information, see one of your local centers or follow the Anniston Aquatic and Fitness Center on facebook or twitter.