Merrill Fire Department receives substantial grant from Bierman Foundation
On Sept. 11, the City of Merrill was notified that it is the recipient of a grant from the
Bierman Family Foundation Inc. With the opening of the new fire station in Merrill later this year, the Bierman Family Foundation has decided to replace some old and outdated equipment with some new state of the art equipment.
“With this new equipment the citizens and businesses of the community will be safer,” said Fire Chief Dave Savone. “The Fire Department will be able to respond to emergencies more efficiently with this modern equipment.”
The Bierman Family Foundation is named for Carl and Jane Bierman, founders of Lincoln Wood Products in Merrill. The Bierman family has shown a deep commitment to Merrill, contributing to numerous community projects over the years.
“The Bierman Foundation felt this grant funding will go toward taking additional proactive steps to increase the safety for the current businesses and residents of our community and could attract more businesses to the city, because of these up-to-dated resources and equipment,” Savone said.
The new equipment includes a 3,000 gallon water tender, rescue squad, incident command vehicle, firefighting protective turnout gear including helmets, self-contained breathing apparatus, and a breathing air compressor system to fill the air packs.
The new water tender will replace the Fire Department’s current water tender, Tender/Tanker 5, a 1987 Ford 3,000 gallon water tender. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that a front line tender only be in front-line service for 12-15 years and in a reserve status for another 10 years. This vehicle has had been in front line service for 26 years.
The new rescue squad will replace Rescue 1, a 1988 Ford 8000 Squad. This unit has been in service for over 25 years. “The vehicle is unsafe, not mechanically sound with many maintenance issues, including doors that open while being driven, underpowered engine, undersized braking system, rust and is generally a piece of apparatus that has outlived its usefulness,” Savone noted.
The department currently has no dedicated vehicle to be used as the incident command post on an emergency scene. The tools and equipment associated with incident command are spread throughout the station and other vehicles. A mobile incident command car will bring better communications, incident management tools and formal organization to an emergency scene, Savone noted.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that fire helmets be replaced every 10 years. The helmets that are currently being worn by most of the department’s members are 10-12 years old. The replacement helmets will be safer for the firefighter, they will be lighter in weight, have more reflective markings on them, and they will have eye protection built into the helmet.
The grant will allow for the replacement of personal protective equipment (PPE) turnout gear for all firefighters. NFPA 1851 was amended to require that all turnout gear, regardless of its visible condition, be removed from service after 10 years of service life.
The department’s existing self-contained breathing apparatus equipment has had extensive use in firefighting/training and will be nearing the end of the useful, efficient life. As the equipment becomes worn it is increasingly expensive to repair and maintain. The new updated technology of the SCBA units increase firefighter safety and, ultimately, survivability, Savone said.
With the closing of the Westside fire station, the old breathing air compressor was donated to Northcentral Tech College in Merrill. That compressor was over 25 years old and no longer met the needs of the fire department. With the building of the new station, a reliable breathing air compressor system will be needed. The system will be a fully integrated SCBA recharging system, meeting the NFPA standards to provide breathing air of the highest quality for our firefighters.
“The city of Merrill has been challenged because of the state of the economy,” Savone said. “The city has not been able to provide the resources or replace the needed equipment.”
Along with this incredible gift to the City of Merrill, the Foundation also made a donation to the Fire Fighter Memorial being constructed in front of the new fire station.
The Merrill Fire Department is an “All-Hazard” Emergency Response Service, providing fire and rescue emergency services to the City of Merrill, along with the Towns of Merrill, Scott and the southern 80% of Rock Falls. Advanced Life Support-Emergency Medical Services and Ambulance coverage is provided by the Fire Department for the City of Merrill, along with the Towns of Birch, Corning, Harding, Harrison (portions), Merrill, Pine River, Rock Falls, Russell, Schley and Scott.
“Please join us in thanking the Bierman Family Foundation for their very generous donation,” Savone said. “With this new equipment the citizens of Merrill will be safer and will make it more desirable for business to relocate to the City of Merrill.”
Along with diverting expenses away from taxpayers, the equipment purchases from the Bierman gift could also have another positive financial impact on city homeowners, Savone noted.
“Next year, after all this equipment is in place, we hope to have the Insurance Service Organization (ISO) update the insurance rating of the city. We should see a better rating, which could lower the insurance rates to all homeowner and business owners,” Savone said. “Also, the cost of this equipment could save the owner of a $75,000 house about $250-$300 over the next 20 years.”