DIXIE INN — In addition to bond money secured by Webster Fire District 7, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu's office announced Wednesday the district will receive a grant for more than $203,000 from the Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Program (AFG).
Fire District chief Brian Williams said the board applied for the grant in 2013 but was not aware it had been secured. The money will go toward replacing old equipment, he said.
"We applied to get a new set of bunker gear for each firefighter," Williams said. "It's structural gear to fight house fires. It will give every member of the department a new set of gear."
Williams said all the gear is 10 years or older.
"According to standard, you are supposed to replace it every 10 years," he said. "We applied for the grant because we couldn't buy 20 sets of gear all at one time, but being fortunate enough to get the grant, we can start replacing them on a schedule and get caught up."
Every year hereafter there will be money in the district's budget to purchase gear if needed, he said.
He said the grant will also help the board purchase air packs for each of the district's five fire engines.
"The air packs we have now, the majority of them are greater than 15 years old," Williams said. "Some of them are as old as 35 years old."
Landrieu, D-La. secured the funding as the author of the bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2014.
"Firefighters risk their lives every day to protect our friends, families and neighbors. During fires and emergencies, they deserve to have the best equipment to get the job done," Landrieu, who is chair of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee said. "The quality of their response equipment can literally mean the difference between life or death. This grant will ensure firefighters in Webster Parish (Fire District 7) will have the tools and training they need to keep their community safe."
The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration, administers this competitive grant program.