Appreciation for business donors to buy fire training equipment

Firefighters demonstrate the use of the new training simulator.

Firefighters demonstrate the use of the new training simulator.

FLINT TWP. — Several local businesses invested in improving countywide firefighting safety and were recognized for their generosity Friday by area firefighting units.

The Flint Township Fire Department hosted an Appreciation Day for those who helped buy a new mobile fire training unit (SCBA) jointly funded by a federal grant. The equipment will be used in training firefighters in Genesee and Oakland counties.

Thanks to the generous business donors and contributions by local fire departments, all but about $2,100 has been raised toward $36,000 in matching local funds needed, said Flint Township Fire Chief John Ringwelski, adding that the remaining funds are expected to come in soon.

“Anybody who pays taxes has helped make this possible through the FEMA grant,” he said.

Chris Hennessy, a representative from Senator Debbie Stabenow’s office, stressed how hard it is to get one of the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters grants.

Bob Johnson, deputy chief of the Burton Fire Department, shows apparatus where firefighers practice chopping through a roof. It can be raised to any pitch or lay flat.

Bob Johnson, deputy chief of the Burton Fire Department, shows apparatus where firefighers practice chopping through a roof. It can be raised to any pitch or lay flat.

“It says a lot that Flint Township was able to get the grant but also to pull together all of the additional funding to help make this happen,” he said, with a nod to a list of corporate donors whose names were displayed on a sign attached to the training unit.

He also was one of several speakers heaping praise on assistant Flint Twp. Fire Chief Mike Burkley for successfully writing and administrating the highly sought after FEMA grant.

Having this equipment has been on a wish list for a long time, said Skip Davis, president of the Genesee County Fire Chief’s Association.

“I am excited and grateful that Genesee County has finally acquired a modular training device,” he said. “The unit allows our students to observe actual fire behavior and conduct numerous kinds of hands-on training.”

The trainer consists of two trailers that can be used together or separately. The “live burn” side will be used to conduct training in a realistic teaching environment, Davis said.

“Students will learn to fight fires in the same smoke and heat conditions that they will encounter on actual fire scenes,” he said.

The second trailer is set up for various activities including search and rescue, self-contained breathing, forcible entry, vertical ventilation, fighting basement and rooftop fires and second story and ladder operations, Davis said.

Prior to obtaining these units, most of what new firefighters learned was taught in a less than ideal classroom setting. The trainers will provide a safe, controlled environment to practice what they learn in class, he said.

He also noted that acquiring the trainers was a countywide endeavor but could not have happened without cooperation from the Flint Township Board of Trustees. The Fire Chef’s association could not sponsor the federal grant request. It had to come from a government unit, he said.

Davis also commended various businesses being recognized including providing materials such as wood pallets and straw used in the live burns and transportation service to move the trailers to fire departments around the county.

Flint Township businesses recognized were Walmart, Target, Patsy Lou Automotive Group, Servpro, Stat EMS, The Dive Shop, Randy Wise Auto Mall, Vehicle City Harley Davidson, Acme Building Products, the Salvation Army and Penske Logistics which has volunteered to move the trailers around the county for the rest of the year.

Others recognized for contributions included Belfor/Coach’s Restoration, Halt Fire, the Flint Township Board of Trustees, the Genesee County Fire Chief’s Association, the Genesee County Firefighter Training Committee and fire departments in Argentine, Atlas Township, Clio, Fenton, Flint, Burton, Mundy Township, Swartz Creek, Gaines, Forest Township, Flushing, Linden, Montrose, Grand Blanc and Groveland Township in Oakland County.

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