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Ohio FD receives $10K grant for water rescue equipment

Funding will help provide new gear for Saybrook Township Fire Department personnel


Saybrook Township Fire Department/Facebook

By Connor Ball
Star Beacon

SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The Saybrook Township Fire Department received funding for new equipment to help water-rescue teams in Ashtabula County.

Equipment at the Saybrook station had aged and individual wet suits can cost thousands of dollars.

The department applied for a grant made by the NOPEC Foundation, which is administered through the Cleveland Foundation.

“I know after speaking to the Board of Directors for the NOPEC Foundation that it was the highlight of their year to make the challenge grant,” said Community Investment and Economic Director Aaron Marcovy.

According to Commander of the Ashtabula County Water Rescue Team Bill Olin, STFD received $10,000 from that grant with the promise of another $10,000 if they could get a match from a local source.

“We provided $19,500 to allow them to draw down an additional allocation from NOPEC,” said Ashtabula County Commissioner Casey Kozlowski. “The funds were ultimately used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), specifically for the Ashtabula County Water Rescue Team.

“The commissioners felt it was very important to make this investment, especially after the announced departure of the Ashtabula County Coast Guard station, which we feel places a greater burden on our local communities to respond to incidents in and around Lake Erie .”

Since the Coast Guard will be gone this summer, the Fire Department is expecting a higher number of calls.

“We can’t replace what the Coast Guard does,” Olin said. “In the past we’ve assisted them. We’re limited. We can do near-shore rescue — a mile or two out.”

Volunteer firefighters were at the Saybrook Township Fire Department on Saturday packing up boxes that will be distributed to county fire departments that participate in water rescue.

The equipment includes a dry suit, hood, boots, gloves, personal flotation device, helmet, thermals, rescue knife and carabiners.

According to Olin, the Coast Guard recently sent out a bulletin for boaters watching the April 8 total solar eclipse that advised people to dress for water temperature — not the air temperature.

If you fall overboard, there’s a “1-10-1" rule. You have one minute to control your breathing, 10 minutes for self-rescue and one hour before you become unconscious due to hypothermia.

“We’re going to have our boat out on Monday so that if there’s an emergency in the water we are able to respond to it,” said Ashtabula Fire Chief Shawn Gruber.

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82% of U.S. fire departments are all or mostly volunteer and, often, their funding depends on people stepping up to help