With a big check — literally — from the Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade, the Guyton Volunteer Fire Department will be bolstering its equipment.
Kelly Wolff, mill manager at Georgia-Pacific’s Savannah River Mill, presented Guyton Fire Chief David Starling with a $10,000 check for the department. The department will use the grant to replace 10 self-contained breathing apparatus bottles.
“It’s the basic stuff they’ve got to have to make sure our friends and families are safe,” Wolff said.
The air bottles have a shelf life of 15 years, even if they are never used. The bottles provide firefighters with breathable air as they battle a fire or conduct rescues in hazardous or toxic environments.
“We’re ecstatic,” said Chief Starling. “We’re very happy.”
With the grant in hand, the new air bottles could be in within a week and a half to two weeks, according to Starling.
Fire departments in communities where Georgia-Pacific has a facility submit applications for the Bucket Brigade grants. A needs-based criteria is used to determine grant winners, and many departments in those communities were victims of disasters themselves this past year. Some were flooded completely.
“There were so many issues with fires and floods,” Wolff said. “They lost turnout gear and they lost fire trucks. The company has really helped out in those areas. It’s nice to see we have Guyton win one.”
Georgia-Pacific selected 25 fire departments from the more than 300 communities where it has facilities in the U.S. In its sixth year, the Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade has contributed nearly $800,000 to rural and small-town fire departments to help purchase needed equipment.
“It’s great to work for a company that appreciates safety and appreciates the safety of its employees and its community,” Wolff added. “There’s nothing more important than what (the Guyton Fire Department) does.”
The Guyton Fire Department has 19 volunteer firefighters, with 11 certified as first responders. In operation for more than 50 years, the Guyton Fire Department provides more than 17,000 residents with firefighting, rescue, extrication and first responder services.
The other 2011 Bucket Brigade grant recipients were from communities in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.
The Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade is a national program that recognizes and supports the contributions of fire and rescue units in communities with Georgia-Pacific facilities. The program supports firefighters in several areas including cash donations for equipment and safety education materials for presentations in local schools.
“Fire and rescue units in our local communities play such a vital role in safety. They are often the only emergency units in towns where we have operations,” said Jim Hannan, Georgia-Pacific chief executive officer and president. “It means a lot to our employees and our company to be able to support these departments through our Bucket Brigade grants.”