When a follower of the Poynette Dekorra Fire Department Facebook page sent a message prompting firefighters to apply for a grant, firefighter TJ Brandenburg sat down to fill out the two-page application.
The hours-long process paid off. After outlining what was needed and the type of materials being sought, the department was one of 55 in Wisconsin that received funding for rescue equipment. A grant of $3,000 supplemented much needed new rope rescue materials.
“The stuff we have is outdated,” Brandenburg said. “Everything has a shelf life, everything has to be replaced.”
Chief Jim Tomlinson said the ropes, pulleys, harnesses and other pieces are used infrequently, but are invaluable when needed.
“Luckily, not very often,” Tomlinson said. “But when we do, it needs to be specialized.”
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Rope rescues can span a variety of circumstances, Brandenburg said. The typical situation involves someone falling from a steep surface, but the equipment can also be used when victims of a car crash are down a steep embankment. It can also be used for hunters who may have a rescue harness on when falling out of tree stands and unable to get themselves to safety and for rescues when there are fires in large buildings.
Compeer Financial created the Fund for Rural America in 2018. This is the second year it has awarded grants to departments through its Emergency Response Equipment Program. So far, the program has given grants to 328 public safety agencies totaling more than $898,000, according to the company.
Tomlinson credited the members of his department for seeking out new resources, noting that the “initiative” was taken by firefighters to secure the grant funding. The 100% volunteer department has between 40 and 50 first responders, with half on the firefighter roster and the other half on the EMT side.
Budgetary aids are important in their department, Brandenburg said. Even supplementing the purchase of new equipment is beneficial. Grants can help ensure they can simply purchase new items “instead of us having to fit it into a budget that’s already tight,” Brandenburg said.
They started buying replacements less than a month ago. They have purchased new rope, harnesses, tie-in systems, pulleys and other hardware. Tomlinson said the hardware may last longer, but rope has a life of about 10 years before it needs to be replaced. He echoed the idea that auxiliary funding alleviates budgetary pressures for the department.
“Money doesn’t just flow in here,” Tomlinson said. “Anytime you can get resources into the department … we’re happy to see it. It helps the community feel more secure.”
Follow Bridget on Twitter @cookebridget.