Career Center firefighting program receives $7,500 grant from SCSFA

COUNTY — The South Carolina State Firefighters Association donated $7,500 to the firefighting program at the Pickens County Career and Technology Center last week.

The funds come from a federal grant called SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response)from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

According to FEMA, the grant “was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase the number of trained ‘front-line’ firefighters available in their communities.”

“We need young people to be involved in firefighting, and we’ve learned that if you can get kids involved at this age that they will continue to serve their communities in firefighting,” said Glassy Mountain Fire Chief Brian Riebe, chairman of the recruitment and retention committee for the SCSFA.

Riebe said a study performed with funds from a previous SAFER grant found that South Carolina needs about double its current number of firefighters to provide adequate fire protection, especially in rural areas.

Greg Newton, the Law and Public Safety Instructor at the CTC, said the funds are crucial for getting the equipment the program needs to teach students how to be first responders. He said students need the equipment for proper safety training.

“When you have an emergency, your equipment must be usable,” Newton said. “The other thing is you have to be able to use it safely. If, by unsafe actions, you become a casualty, you can’t help the people you are trying to rescue.”

Newton said the funds will be used to replace turnout gear, life-safety ropes, air packs and other safety equipment used in training.