Charlotte-Area Fire Departments Win Homeland Security Grants

Eight Charlotte-area fire departments have been awarded $703,000 in U.S. Homeland Security grants for equipment and training.

For the Lenior Fire Department, the $133,731 in federal money will allow them to replace 12-year-old protective firefighting suits, helmets and boots. They'll also buy a washer and dryer so the 62 paid firefighters there can take care of their gear on site.

"If we had not received a grant there is no way we could have purchased new protective gear for our firefighters here," said Chief Kenneth Briscoe.

The grants are part of an ongoing program expected eventually to deliver $600 million to fire departments across the country. About $205 million was awarded this fiscal year. Of that, $9.7 million went to the Carolinas: $5.7 million to 59 departments in North Carolina and $4 million to 38 departments in South Carolina.

The recipients are mostly smaller departments. However, the Charlotte Fire Department has received money from Homeland Security in the past that went toward equipment for monitoring air quality and responding to sites with hazardous materials, said Charlotte Fire Capt. Rob Brisley.

"Thanks to funding from Homeland Security we have the equipment to safely equip or protect two Hazmat teams on either side of the city," Brisley said. "The fire service is changing significantly even without 9-11, and to keep up with those changes requires dollars." Where The Money's Going

Gastonia Fire Department $76,800

City of Kings Mountain Fire Department $36,157

Lenoir Fire Department $133,731

Boger City Fire Department (Lincolnton) $66,249

Beaver Lane Volunteer Rescue and Fire Department (Marshville) $85,594

Town of Mooresville Fire Department $61,531

City of Newton Fire Department $191,948

Cool Springs Volunteer Fire Department (Statesville) $51,801

Distributed by the Associated Press