Daily Union Editor
---- — Eleven packages of new gear plus a big check for $10,000 equals a lot of happy firefighters.
Several pieces of Shelbyville Fire Department gear were damaged and stained with oil during the oil rig fire near Clarksburg in April. The contaminated gear posed a threat to firefighters going into any other fire because of the flammability. Only the second line firefighters - those not going directly into a fire - could wear the gear.
“I am ecstatic to get the gear,” said Shelbyville Fire Chief Gary Lynch. “We’re very happy thanks to the Evanston Fire Department.”
The gift was made possible by way of a Chicagoland visitor to the Balloonfest in October. The Shelbyville Fire Department held a cookout and displayed a truck and ladder and their smokehouse during the event and shared the story of the oil rig fire with the visitor. The visitor, who is a part of the Evanston Fire Department, contacted his chief and suggested that they donate some of their extra new gear to the Shelbyville department.
On Monday the gear arrived and Wednesday evening the squad got a chance to check it out.
The department was also presented a check for $10,000 from Shelby Electric Cooperative, Shelbyville Area Community Foundation, and CoBank Sharing Success Program.
“The cookout during the Balloonfest brought us $4,000, just shy of the $5,000 goal amount to get a matching grant from CoBank,” said Shelby Electric Cooperative spokesperson Kevin Bernson.
“We (Shelbyville Area Community Foundation) filled in to make sure they got the $5,000 so they could get the full match,” said Noel Bolinger of the Foundation.
The $10,000 will help purchase another 10 sets of gear.
Lynch noted that firefighter’s gear has a 7-year life before it needs to be traded out. He added that older gear that is still in good shape will be donated to the State Fire Marshall to be sent to another department.
The main source of funds for the fire department rests on the taxpayers. Any fundraisers the department does helps pay for the necessary extras to do their job. Many of the firefighting personnel are volunteers.
“This wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for Shelby Electric Cooperative, the Foundation, and CoBank. We are grateful and thankful,” Lynch said.