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Dorchester County Fire Rescue Awarded $826,804 in FEMA Grants
Dorchester County Fire Rescue (DCFR) has been awarded two (2) FEMA grants; an Assistance to Firefighters Grant in the amount of $325,918 and a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant in the amount of $500,886.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) will fund:
1. The installation of diesel exhaust capture systems in six (6) fire stations. The new systems will reduce the amount of diesel smoke DCFR personnel are exposed to on a daily basis. Studies have shown that compared to the General Population, firefighters have a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying of cancer. The new systems are a continuation of the department's efforts to reduce the risk of cancer for firefighters.
2. To offset the cost of pre-employment and annual firefighter physicals- to include full-body scans in hopes of diagnosing and treating serious medical conditions before symptoms may be present.
3. To provide behavioral health wellness visits for members to discuss any personal or emotional issues that may be present in their lives, work-related or not. In 2017, more firefighters died in the United States from committing suicide than in the line of duty. By providing the behavioral health component, it will allow the members to talk to a professional, in a confidential and private setting.
4. Hepatitis B, Tetanus, and Influenza immunizations for all DCFR personnel, who wish to receive them, at no cost.
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant provided the funding for three (3) full-time firefighter positions for the St. George fire station. The increase in full-time staffing at St. George will allow part-time firefighter positions to be re-assigned to the Harleyville fire station, doubling the staffing at the Harleyville station, during daytime hours. The grant will cover the personnel costs of the three firefighters for three years, at which time DCFR will assume the personnel costs in the normal budget process.
Dorchester County Fire Chief, Tres Atkinson said “DCFR is humbled and honored to have been awarded the FEMA grants. The grant funds will help to improve the quality of life for our firefighters and increase the level of service we provide to the residents of Dorchester County by adding more full-time firefighters.”