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State funds assist rural firefighters

UNION – The Union Rural Fire Department has received over $18,000 in state funding.

The fire department was awarded a check for $18,266.82 Thursday afternoon by Bill Bradberry, a special assistant to state Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshall Jim Long.

Chris Smith, the Assistant Chief for Union, was on hand to accept the presentation and give Bradberry a demonstration of how the funds were spent.

“This means a lot for a low-budget departments like ours,” Smith said of the grant. “We don’t have a lot of funds other department do.”

The Fire Grant, which was created by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1988, has been awarded to Union more than 10 times over the previous 15 years, including a $20,000 grant towards the purchase of a new truck in 1998.

“There are a lot of items we have here that we wouldn’t without the funding from the state,” Smith stressed.

Bradberry said he was fortunate to be able to go around the state and deliver funds to departments like Union.

“Without this funding, some of the lower budget department would be hurting,” Bradberry said. “I have the best job in the world because I get to bring funds to departments like this.

“The public should know how hard they work and the investment required of people volunteering in smaller departments,” he continued. “Without the work they do and the fire ratings they maintain, everyone in this area would see their homeowner’s insurance increase. Anytime someone has an opportunity to support their local fire department, they should do it.”

Smith said a large portion of the reason Union had the fire rating they did was because of money received from the Fire Grant Fund.

The major purchase made through the matching fund grant was an air cascade system which allows Union to be able to fill airpack bottles used by firefighters when battling a blaze inside a building.

They also purchased new sets of turnout gear, a motor and pump for the brush unit and miscellaneous materials such as hose nozzles which wear out quickly.

“Fire and rescue personnel are on the front lines of responding to emergencies and protecting us every day,” Commissioner Long said. “The bravery shown by these men and women should be supported with the best equipment and supplies needed to do their jobs right and do it safely. But too often our volunteer departments struggle for money.

“I am proud that we have this grant program in place to provide departments like this one with much-needed funds to continue their good work,” Long added. “We’ve done a lot of good with this money over the last 18 years and I intend to continue supporting our fire and rescue organizations across this great state.”

The Fire Grant Fund, establish in 1988, helps volunteer units with money for equipment and supplies. The funds are matching grants n the state matches dollar-for-dollar, up to an approve amount, monies raised locally to purchase necessary equipment.