By Joel Hall
Morrow firefighters will be a little bit safer, thanks to a $71,374 grant recently awarded to the department by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In addition, Fire Chief Mark Herendeen became one of only 616 chief fire officers worldwide to earn accreditation from the Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC), a public safety accrediting agency, which is a wing of the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc., in Chantilly, Va.
Herendeen, who has served as Morrow fire chief for nearly four years, said the FEMA grant will help purchase tools firefighters can use in the field, and in the station, to make their lives safer. While the grant will require 5 percent matching funds from the city, the fire department will be able to purchase diesel-emission-capturing systems for nine vehicles, four ventilation saws, and two multi-gas detectors.
"We applied for the grant; we were specific in nature," said Herendeen. "We asked for a diesel-emission-capture system. It's a canister that mounts on the diesel engine, and it will emit less emissions into the atmosphere." He said the lower emissions will protect the environment, as well as firefighters who often sleep near the vehicles.
"We're also purchasing new ventilation saws," Herendeen added. "In certain situations, when heat is building up, it lets us cut a hole out of the ceiling. You can use them for steel, wood, and concrete. It's a very handy tool for a firefighter."
Herendeen said the department would also use the grant to purchase two, hand-held, multi-gas detectors, which alert firefighters to high levels of flammable gas and carbon monoxide.
"It's a generous amount from the federal government," he said. "It truly helps us out. I don't know if we could ever find the money in our budget to do this, but this is very important for the safety and health of the firefighters."
In addition, the department received a mark of distinction when Herendeen, its chief, was accredited by the CPC. The CPC accrediting process evaluates fire chiefs on their education, experience, fire-fighting aptitude, and long-term development plans for their departments.
Herendeen said the accreditation provides an example to other firefighters in the department to make their education paramount.
"The fire services have become complicated over the years," he said. "When I started in 1977, it was just jump on the truck and put out the fire. Now, it's a whole different ball game. We encourage education very strongly [in the department]. You can't really push education unless you take part in it yourself."