Fire department receives USDA grant

Published 10:57 am Sunday, March 10, 2024

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U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is stepping up in a big way to help ensure that a volunteer fire department in Charlotte County has the equipment needed to protect lives and property.

According to a release from the USDA, the Drakes Branch Fire and Rescue Department will use a $25,000 grant to equip a pumper truck being purchased with agency funds in the fiscal year 2023. Needed items include battery-operated tools, rescue struts and a ramp to help pry open parts of vehicles to free those trapped inside (similar to the Jaw of Life™).

Drakes Branch Fire and Rescue Kenny Tharpe said the department’s new pumper had been ordered and should be delivered within a year and a half, but the equipment is being delivered now.

“This order was possible by selling one of our trucks and equipment will be combined into one rescue engine,” Tharpe said. 

Tharpe said the grant will help replace the department’s first out engine which is approaching 23 years old. 

“While grants and low-interest loans are great, we couldn’t match these grants or make the payments without awesome support and for that, we are beyond grateful,” Tharpe said. 

In addition to Drakes Branch Fire and Rescue, two departments in Brunswick County received grant funds. 

“Firefighters put themselves at risk with every response and need the most current tools to perform their jobs safely,” Hickman said. “The nearly $900,000 in funding offered to these three departments highlights our strong commitment to the health and well-being of these hometown heroes and the residents of the communities they serve.”