Southwest VFD receiving grant

By Brad Buck
The Palatka Daily News



The Southwest Putnam Volunteer Fire Department near Palatka will receive a federal grant of $52,530 to pay for better equipment and training, U.S. Rep. John Mica said Wednesday.
That comes as good news to Fire Chief Larry Beaton.
The money will pay for firefighting equipment, protective clothing for firefighters and a thermal imager, he said Thursday. The imager allows firefighters to see through smoke to see a victim in a fire, Beaton said. The grant funds also will pay for a detector for flammable gases and training equipment including tables, chairs, computers, a projector and training software, he said.
"This is the third year we've applied," Beaton said. "The third time was a charm."
Firefighters in the volunteer department serve about 9,500 residents, he said. That's the largest department in the county, other than the Palatka Fire Department, he said.
"The federal government recognizes the critical role of our community's firefighters," Mica, R-Winter Park, said in a prepared statement. "This grant will provide significant assistance and resources to (the) fire department as they serve our community during times of need. I am pleased that some of our taxpayers' funds will come back to ... Palatka to help provide vital first-responder services such as emergency assistance and medical care."
The grant comes under the Assistance to Firefighters program administered by the U.S. Fire Administration, which is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mica said. Money is used by fire departments to buy equipment, improve emergency medical programs and increase the effectiveness of firefighting operations, he said.