Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 11, 2009

gift will buy VFD six new turnout gear sets

Vicksburg Fire Chief Keith Rogers accepted a $10,000 check from two national insurance companies Wednesday. 

“We’re going to buy six full sets of turnout gear with the money,” said Rogers, referring to the fire-resistant clothing that protects firefighters from chemicals, heat and flames. “This is top-of-the-line gear. It’s rated to 1,500 degrees, it’s lighter than some of the gear we have, it breathes better — and it just takes a lot of the stress off the firefighters to have it.”

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The money — which requires no local match — comes from the Heritage Program, a philanthropic entity created by Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company in 2004. It has provided fire departments across the country with $21.6 million for equipment, training and job retention.

Steve Golding, owner of Golding Barge Line, nominated the local fire department for the grant after discussing the program with a representative of his insurance broker, St. Louis-based McGriff, Seibels & Williams — which does business with a variety of marine-based companies in Vicksburg and is able to direct Heritage Program grants as a Fireman’s Fund agent.

“Our usual involvement with an insurance company is either to pay a premium or file a claim — neither of which are very pleasant — so it was great to learn about this grant and be able to see it benefit our community,” Golding said. “It’s also good to know it will go toward purchasing equipment, and not just be lost in the general budget.”

Heritage Program Director Ron Mori traveled from Chicago to present Rogers with the grant check at a meeting of the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

“We know fire departments across the country are being asked to do more with less,” Mori said.

Fireman’s Fund, founded in 1863 with a mission to support firefighters, now sells general lines of property and casualty insurance.

South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.


Contact Steve Sanoski at ssanoski@vicskburgpost.com