Darren Doyle, story and photos
Chalybeate Fire Chief Daniel Johnson is reaching out to his community to seek help with a dire need that his department faces.
Johnson says that the CVFD is in desperate need of new turnout gear, which is the typical firefighter uniform equipment, consisting of a helmet, hood, coat, pants, and boots.
Johnson said that the updated equipment is required not only in order for fire departments to stay in compliance with state and federal regulations, but also as a matter of personal safety.
"Right now, the gear we have is three years out of date," he said. "What we have expired about three years ago and it's not safe."
Local fire departments operate on budgets funded by taxes and any available grants. Johnson said Chalybeate operates on a $40,000 yearly budget which is mainly funded through county taxes. He said at normal operation, which includes the firehouse, property, and truck maintenance, that amount is just enough to cover the basics. It doesn't, however, include equipment upgrades. He said one set of the turnout gear which outfits one firefighter costs over $1800.
"We've got people in our community that want to join our fire department but we can't accept them because we don't have enough equipment. This is not a matter of wanting new turnout gear for looks. What we have is no longer safe for our department."
Johnson said the recent fundraiser with the Dukes of Hazzard cars helped bring in $4000 for the department. He said three sets of the gear is being purchased with those funds. He also said the fire department will be at the fair each night and is selling raffle tickets for a country ham. Tickets are $1 each or 6 tickets for $5.
He also noted that he wasn't a fan of simply asking Edmonson County citizens for donations, but at this point, really had no other option. With 17 sets of new gear needed, he's going to have to sell lots of tickets for the country ham.
"Our departments are all made up of volunteers, you know, none of us get paid. That's ok, that's not why we do this," he said. "But we're also out here risking our lives to protect people and property. If a firefighter were to get hurt out here wearing this outdated gear, we probably couldn't get worker's comp to pay their medical bills. It's a matter of safety and doing things right."
If you or your business would like to donate to the Chalybeate Fire Department gear drive, you can send a check payable to Chalybeate Fire Department to:
Chief Daniel Johnson
2200 Mohawk Road
Brownsville KY 42210