Fire grants given to county depts.

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Shelby and Columbiana Volunteer Fire Departments have received grants totaling almost $100,000.

Shelby received a $48,165 grant and the Columbiana department received $49,115.

The federal funds, which will be used to purchase new equipment and safety gear, were awarded under the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program.

Shelby Volunteer Fire Chief Cain Reed said this money would allow his department to stay up-to-date with newer technology, like the $10,000 thermal imaging camera that the department will buy.

&8220;It will find hot spots and find human bodies through the smoke,&8221; Reed said. &8220;In fact, its something people are pushing for in all departments because it does find the hotspots that maybe would have been missed and rekindled after we are gone.&8221;

Shelby will also buy six breathing machines worth $4,200 a piece and various hoses.

Columbiana Fire Chief Johnny Howard said federal and state grants keep volunteer fire departments alive.

&8220;Daily funding takes care of calls, but to grow and to move forward, the only way we can do that is through grants,&8221; Howard said.

A large percentage of Columbiana&8217;s grant will go toward purchasing an air compressor system to fill self-contained breathing packs.

The department will also buy a special washing machine to remove contaminates from gear.

Both departments will purchase smaller items such as small hand tools and generators.

Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-Vestavia Hills) announced the grants last week and congratulated the two departments for being successful in the competition for federal dollars.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security administers the program