Metro Moore receives state fire equipment grant

fire equipment like new turnout gear
According to Metro Fire Chief Mark Neal, the state money will be used locally to help replace 10 year old turnout gear at the Metro Moore Volunteer Fire Department. (File Photo)

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — When the tones play, they go … no matter the hour. Volunteer fire departments – like the one here in Metro Moore County – are crucial to providing fire safety in Tennessee as over 70 percent of the Volunteer State’s fire departments are staffed entirely by volunteers. Of Tennessee’s 19,510 active firefighters, an estimated 11,229 are volunteers.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) recently announced that Metro Moore County was among 147 Tennessee volunteer fire departments that will receive grants in 2023 as part of a $5 million Volunteer Firefighter Equipment and Training Grant Program.

According to Metro Fire Chief Mark Neal, the state money will be used locally to replace 10 year old turnout gear at the Metro Moore Volunteer Fire Department.

“We received $19,600. This state money will cover a portion of the new equipment. It will be combined with fire department budget money from this year and next physical year budget,” Chief Neal told The Times.

Third increase in state grant funding in past four years

Created through legislation and approved by the Tennessee General Assembly, the Volunteer Firefighter Equipment and Training Grant Program awards grant monies to volunteer fire departments across Tennessee’s three Grand Divisions. The grants will be used to purchase firefighting equipment or to help volunteer departments meet local matching requirements for federal equipment grants.

The grant program strengthens the commitment from the state to protect property and helping reduce fire fatalities in Tennessee.

“Since the program’s creation in 2020, $6.5 million has been used to purchase the turnout gear, fire hoses, thermal imaging cameras, and other important pieces of equipment that helps ensure the safety of the brave men and women who volunteer to protect their communities,” said TDCI Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Carter Lawrence. “Because volunteer fire departments’ needs are so great, Governor Lee and the General Assembly have been steadily increasing the assistance during each grant period in order to replace aging, unsafe equipment. It is my honor to help serve the Tennessee fire service so that they can save lives and protect property across Tennessee.”

During the program’s inaugural year in 2020, 41 departments were awarded $500,000 for equipment purchases through the program. In 2022, 62 fire departments received grants totaling $1 million. Other area fire departments receiving grants included Wayne County EMA, Hillsboro Volunteer Fire Department, Bedford County Fire Department, Decherd Fire & Rescue, Giles County Fire & Rescue, City of Cowan Fire Department, North Franklin Fire Department, and Estill Spring Volunteer Fire Department. A list of fire departments receiving $5 million in grant funding in 2023 can be found here.

“Volunteer fire departments are the backbone of fire protection in our communities, and it is crucial that they have the equipment they need to safely complete their mission,” said Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley. “As a lifelong member of the fire service, I am proud to be associated with a program that is helping protect Tennessee firefighters who risk their lives every day.”

During the application period (Nov. 1, 2022 – Dec. 1, 2022), the SFMO received a total of 191 applications from Tennessee fire departments. The applications were reviewed, scored, and submitted to a seven-member committee for the final award selection. As required by law, the grants were awarded equally to fire departments across Tennessee’s three Grand Divisions. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently-owned, community newspaper located in Lynchburg, Tennessee the home of The Jack Daniel Distillery. We focus on public service, non-partisan, rural journalism. We cover the Metro Moore County government, local tourism, Moore County schools, high school sports, Motlow State Community College, as well as whiskey industry news and regional and state stories that affect our readers.}