Through FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, the department has been awarded $16,191, which will be used for the “general maintenance of our fire trucks,” according to Kure Beach Assistant Fire Chief Ed Kennedy.
The money will go toward purchasing 2000 feet of large diameter hose, one thermal imager, and three toughbook laptops that will be mobile data terminal compatible. Getting the hydrant hose, which is the largest expense, is a much needed upgrade.
“We’ve had our hose on our trucks for 20 years. Their life span is only 10 years,” said Kennedy. “This is great to supply our trucks with new hose.”
The technological equipment is also a welcome addition. With the thermal imager, Kure Beach firefighters will be able to see dangerous hidden fires and other things they wouldn’t be able to with the naked eye. The MDT-compatible toughbook computers will improve communication between units as well as enable the department to connect to the county’s logistical resources, allowing them to look up addresses, hydrant locations, water lines and other things much more quickly and easily.
According to Kennedy, the department initially applied for the grant in December of 2014 and were notified of their award in mid-August. When they first applied for the matching grant, the estimated total cost for the equipment was $17,000, with the town slated to cover $850 of that cost. Since then, prices have increased, and Kure Beach’s share of the cost is now $2,266. At the last town council meeting on Sept. 15, the mayor and commissioners unanimously approved using money from the fire department budget to cover it despite the price jump. After Kennedy made his presentation to council and asked if there were any questions, the commissioners had nothing but praise.
“You did a good job [of getting the grant],” said Mayor Dean Lambeth.
“I think that’s outstanding,” said Mayor Pro Tem Craig Bloszinsky. “Great job.”
Commissioner David Heglar’s motion to approve the funds received three “seconds,” prompting Commissioner Emilie Swearingen to say, “We’re really in favor of this.”
The next step for the Kure Beach Fire Department is to purchase the items, after which FEMA will reimburse their share of the money. As part of the grant requirements, some additional reporting must be done once the equipment is acquired. This will be handled by Kennedy, who is grateful for the town’s backing.
“Town council has been extremely supportive through this whole process,” said Kennedy.