Grant funds to help improve firefighters’ health, fitness
By LPR Staff
With the help of a Federal grant program, the Lockhart Fire Department may soon be home to a healthier, more fit breed of firefighter. Not only will the fire station soon have a dedicated workout area, but thanks to a new filtration system to be installed on the trucks, it will also have cleaner air.
According to Fire Ch
ief Jerry Doyle, the City of Lockhart recently received an Assistance to Firefighters grant in excess of $53,000. Using the funds, the department will remodel the lower level of the fire station to build an exercise room, and install filters on the exhaust systems of the two fire engines and the rescue truck currently housed there.
“One of the main concerns we have about the safety of our firefighters is the exhaust from the apparatus being trapped in the building,” Doyle said. “Because of the original design of the building, the airflow doesn”t really allow the exhaust out of the building, and it winds up rising and going into the living area upstairs.”
The majority of the grant will be applied toward the purchase of diesel exhaust capture systems. The systems will be installed on each of the department”s three on-site apparatus, and are designed to minimize exhaust fumes released into the department”s truck bay.
“The filters go straight on the exhaust pipes of the engines and the rescue,” Doyle said. “They actually capture the exhaust, and then release later, when the truck gets “up to speed,” long after it”s left the station.”
The exhaust capture systems are more cost-effective than installing an upgraded ventilation system in the lower level of the fire station.
However, the truck bay will receive some upgrades, in the form of walls and exercise equipment.
“We aren”t sure, at this point exactly where the workout area will be,” Doyle said. “We are working with an architect to determine the best use of the space we have, because we want to figure out the most effective way to provide them with an on-premise area to work out.”
Doyle said the department will also purchase some workout equipment.
“Because of our space constraints, we won”t be able to have a lot of equipment,” he said. “But we want to make sure they have something here, some weight equipment and a way to get a cardiovascular workout.”
Though the station currently has a “workout space,” it is a cramped corner of the building that is home to weights, a treadmill, equipment storage and furniture.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program earmarks funds each year to fire departments and emergency medical services, with the intention of enhancing the ability of first responders to protect public health and safety.
“We are extremely pleased to receive funding that will support our efforts to promote the fitness and wellness of our local firefighters,” Doyle said. He noted that funds will also be used to pay for medical evaluations for the firefighters.