Grant for Gypsum fire |

Grant for Gypsum fire

Scott N. Miller

A federal grant has helped the Gypsum Fire Department cut short years of fund raising for a helpful piece of high-tech equipment.

The $44,000 grant, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, helped the department purchase a thermal imaging camera, a device that allows firefighters to “see” heat sources and gauge the intensity of the heat. The camera, which will show a handprint left on a table, can find hot spots in walls, or, more important, people who might be trapped in a room.

Gypsum Fire Chief Dave Vroman said the thermal camera will also come in handy when firefighters are working accidents on Interstate 70. “You can point it at a tanker truck and see how much of a load it’s carrying,” he said.

The department had been raising money for such a camera for a few years, but had collected less than $5,000. Thermal cameras start at more than $10,000 and go up quickly from there.

“This would have been a seven-year project without the grant,” Vroman said, holding the newly-puchased camera.

Support Local Journalism

The grant also allowed the department to upgrade its firefighter respirator gear, installing new breathing regulators on the existing tanks; and funded the purchase of several “Personal Alert Safety System” boxes. The boxes, which are attached to firefighters’ respirators, emit a piercing shriek when there’s trouble.

“You’re going to go look for somebody when you hear that,” said Vroman.

The final piece of grant-funded equipment is a “Rapid Intervention Team Bag,” essentially an air tank that can provide a downed firefighter with an hour’s worth of oxygen. Firefighter Ray Vanatta said a firefighter trapped under debris could be kept alive until he could be freed.

The FEMA grant is part of a nationwide grant package that annually makes $700 million available for safety equipment upgrades. The grants require a 10 percent local match.

Vroman said his department always has a wish list, and will pursue a FEMA grant again next year.

This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.

Support Local Journalism