Southaven Fire gets federal grant
By Bob Bakken
The Southaven Fire Department will be using federal money to help make two of its fire stations safer with the eventual goal of doing the same thing at all of the city fire stations.
Southaven joined Columbus and Tupelo fire departments in receiving a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency under the FY2017 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program.
Malena Alderman of the Southaven Fire Department, who wrote the grant request, said the $87,830 award allows for the inclusion of new exhaust systems.
"This funding assistance will enable us to be able to install source capture exhaust systems at two of our fire stations and modify those facilities," Alderman said. "That's going to help protect our personnel from toxic emissions from our diesel apparatus that we have. There's been so many occupational cancers and things associated with our line of work that we want to do everything we can to protect our personnel."
Alderman said the systems will be installed at Station 3 on Elmore Road and Station 4 on Getwell Road near Snowden Grove Park. Alderman pointed out, however, the city is working to add the systems at the other two fire stations.
Removing diesel emissions from the fire stations is behind the inclusion of the exhaust systems at the two Southaven locations, Alderman said.
"Toxic diesel emissions have known carcinogens in them," said Alderman. "The repeated response on calls every time a piece of apparatus is cranked up and responds on a call and then comes back, that exhaust is getting in the bay and living quarters are attached to that. It's definitely a concern."
The Southaven grant request was made in February and Mississippi U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith made a joint announcement on the grant awards late last week.
"Mississippi's firefighters put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe," Wicker said. "These well-deserved grants for Columbus, Southaven, and Tupelo will support the installation of advanced safety systems that will help protect emergency personnel for years to come."
"Preparedness is the foundation for effective emergency and crisis response," Hyde-Smith added. "These FEMA grants will help ensure local emergency responders can work in a safe environment and be ready to assist the public."
The AFG program is designed to improve communities' overall level of preparedness and ability to respond to fire and related hazards. Since FY2001, the AFG Program has provided approximately $7.1 billion in grants to first-responder organizations to obtain much-needed emergency response equipment, personal protective equipment, firefighting and emergency vehicles, and training.