Thomas County Fire Department Decides How to Spend Grant

That new equipment and training will be partially paid for with a $112,000 federal grant they received this week.

Each time a fire truck leaves the station it could cost its county thousands of dollars. This and many other costs can now be offset in Thomas County, thanks to a grant from FEMA.

"We will receive $124,000 for the total project. Twelve thousand of that will be provided by the county, $112,000 by the federal government," says Manager Mike Stephenson.

County officials say the money was requested mainly for protective equipment. One thing the departments especially lack money for is their "cascade system", their method of filling air bubbles while they're out on the scene. Each cascade system unit costs $30,000.

Firefighters say a good portion of this grant will go to that cause.

"It will make our turnaround time a lot faster, as it is now they have to bring equipment back to the station and go to other places to have bottles filled. This way they'll be able to fill their bottles literally at the scene," says Robin Lawson, Thomas County Fire Department Captain.

The money will be divided between Thomas County's three stations: Boston, Ochlocknee and Coolidge County. Officials say it's a good jump start for 2004.

County officials credit Congressman Sanford Bishop with pushing the federal government for the grant.