City Manager JR Moneyham knows the needs of his town as well as anyone knows what will make their towns flourish. He is proud of the work the Grand Ridge Volunteer Fire Department does on a very limited budget. There hours are just like the name implies – VOLUNTARY! They put their life on the life when they answer a call to a fire, yet never hesitate to answer a call.
Moneyham knew the firemen were in need of what is called bunker gear. This is personal protective gear, coats, pants, shields, gloves, and boots to protect them while doing their unpaid job. Moneyham continually researches for grants and offers of help from the state and national level. In doing so, last January he learned the state fire marshal’s office was going to distribute $165,000 of bunker gear statewide through grants. Moneyham immediately applied for Grand Ridge to be one of the recipients and received $8,700 for five new complete sets of bunker gear.
Moneyham said of the opportunity, “We take every available avenue we can to provide professional safety gear to protect our firefighters. We have state certified firefighters 1 and firefighter 2 and two certified EMTs (Emergency Medical Technician) who have gone through all the training available and attended classes and training to stay updated with the latest information available. We don’t charge for fire service within the city limits for residences. State Statue prohibits charging for responses to automobile fires or accidents. When the news came the department was receiving new bunker gear, he had a happy group of firefighters.”
The city has 12 active firefighters at this time. Moneyham said, “Last year, I was able to compete nationally through FEMA and we received six new sets of self-contained breathing apparatuses. And the city bought one as a match and one from the Florida Volunteer Fire fighter grant We were able to get almost $37,000 to bring all of our breathing apparatuses in compliance.”
About his department’s response area, Moneyham is quick to say, “We have a five-mile radius for our inner local agreement but we go way father out than the county interlocal agreement states. We respond to the municipalities and unincorporated area that needs our assistance, we all help each other.”
Moneyham is steadily looking ahead to the future for what will need to be replaced or repaired. He is already making applications for a grant to replace the town’s 18-year old truck. We try to stay aggressive in going after grants to make sure our firefighters are staffed and have the proper equipment to be state certified and trained to do their job. We can’t pay all of them a salary but we do try to give them two to three dinners a year. We do give them an allotment and we give them a small Christmas bonus. I did get them authorized for a polo shirt with Grand Ridge Fire Department on there.”
Moneyham said bottom line, “I’m not going to put someone out there who’s not properly equipped and trained. We are fortunate to have Chipola right here next to us and they do an excellent job.”
Moneyham concluded saying they answer about 100 calls a year and that his department is about saving lives and taking care of the residents of Grand Ridge, “When you call them at 2 o’clock in the morning, and they’re here in two to three minutes, then you know you got a great department. We commend the council for all their help in making sure these guys are properly outfitted.”