LCRA, City of Llano provide $8,957 grant to help protect firefighters
Llano Volunteer Fire Department to get specialized equipment to extract contaminants from protective suits, gear
Nov. 11, 2020
LLANO, Texas – An $8,957 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and the City of Llano will help the Llano Volunteer Fire Department purchase specialized equipment to better clean and dry firefighting gear, which can become coated with potential carcinogens and other contaminants during emergency responses.
The Community Development Partnership Program grant, paired with $2,240 in matching funds, will help the Llano department safeguard its firefighters, who can face unseen dangers as they respond to calls spread across more than 500 square miles of Llano County, said Mark Bak, a Llano firefighter and the department’s public information officer.
“With more and more plastics in houses, the smoke and ash that is generated by a fire is often carcinogenic,” said Bak, who first joined a volunteer fire department when he was a teenager living in Pennsylvania. “Years ago, it was a badge of courage if your gear was all black and grungy. Now, that’s not necessarily a good thing.
“The leading cause of death for firefighters nowadays is cancer, not being killed in a fire,” he said.
The new, advanced cleaning and drying equipment will help protect the department’s 30 firefighters while also extending the useful life of the gear.
“With the washer, there’s no agitator that tears at the gear, just a rotating drum that uses a special cleaning solution inserted with an injector,” Bak said. “To replace a set of that protective gear is roughly several thousand dollars per firefighter.”
Eventually, the department wants to procure a second set of gear for each firefighter.
“That way, you can be wearing a clean set while you’re also washing one,” Bak said. “We’re not there yet with the second set of gear, but that’s the next phase of this project. It’s the Llano VFD’s intention to do everything we can to lessen injuries and risk to our firefighters, and this is one of the projects that helps us in that regard.”
The community grant is one of 27 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. The City of Llano is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and is a partner in the grant program.
Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in January. More information is available at lcra.org/cdpp.
The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations. For more information, visit lcra.org.