Fire Department receives grant for life-saving equipment

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published January 15, 2013

HARPER WOODS — When getting to trapped victims in a major collision, every second counts, which is why Fire Chief Sean Gunnery was happy late last month, when he received word that the department’s grant application for extrication equipment was approved.

The fire department will receive about $50,000 through the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program to purchase the equipment, Gunnery said.

“This new equipment will give my fire fighters the ability to cut through the extra strong, tempered metals that car manufacturers are now using to build their vehicles,” he said in an email. “Timely extrication of accident victims saves lives, and I am excited to receive this critical equipment so that my fire fighters can perform their jobs more effectively.”

The city has to provide a small matching amount of $2,400 to purchase the much-needed equipment.

“This new equipment is replacing extrication equipment that is over a decade old,” Gunnery said.

Once the equipment arrives, the firefighters/paramedics will receive training from a representative of the company that provides the new life-saving tool.

Then, the department will conduct more training sessions on its own.

“We will obtain salvage vehicles to practice on to become proficient with this new state-of-the-art equipment,” Gunnery said. “Neuners Towing Company has always been gracious enough to donate wrecked cars for my personnel to chop up.

“It is excellent hands-on training. Interstate 94 is a major reason for obtaining this equipment,” he said. “The semi truck that went up the embankment and crashed into the Kroger Store on Harper Avenue over a year ago is a perfect example of why we need this new equipment.”

That fatal accident involved a semi-truck driver who died in a crash after he was cut off on the freeway, causing his truck to veer up the embankment and into Kroger in 2011.

Harper Woods wasn’t the only local department to receive the news that their application was approved. U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, issued a press release recently about both Harper Woods and Detroit’s awards.

Detroit was awarded more than $600,000 in grant funding.

“I’m proud to announce over $700,000 in federal funding to improve public safety by supporting hard working firefighters in the Detroit area,” Peters stated in the press release. “Every day, our first responders put their lives on the line to protect our families; that’s why it’s so important to ensure that they are equipped and ready to handle any emergency. By making an investment to improve safety in Detroit and Harper Woods, we’re securing a brighter future for our region.”