Independence Fire/EMS Chief Shawn Wallis has sent out a call for the community’s assistance in competing for a $25,000 national grant award that could fund new firefighting technology and equipment.
Wallis explained two grants will be awarded to fire departments somewhere in the United States based on nominations received via online voting. The grant program is a partnership effort by the Nest company, manufacturer of high-tech home smoke alarms, thermostats and security equipment, and the Leary Firefighters Foundation (LFF), which provides funding and resources to fire departments throughout the country.
“This will be a highly competitive process, and the only way to pull it off is with our community’s help,” Wallis said. “Adding to our challenge is the fact that we are small in numbers in our community. Past recipients of support from this grant and the Leary Firefighters Foundation have been located in big cities. We can definitely compete, we just need lots of engagement from local folks.”
The grant nomination window opened April 5 and continues through May 12. Voting is a simple process, Wallis said, noting community members can go online to nominate our local department at https://nest.com/thanks/. The site also offers an optional opportunity for community members to share a story, and that earns the department an extra vote.
The five fire departments receiving the most votes will be considered finalists in the competition and will advance to a formal grant application process, from which two winners will be selected. If the Independence department wins a $25,000 award, Wallis said, the money would be invested into thermal imaging technology to assist firefighters in navigating structure fires and searching for victims, as well as other equipment to be used for staff training, which is a key objective for Wallis as the department’s new chief.
“$25,000 would give us a significant boost in upgrading our technology to better serve our community,” he said. “We want to make an all-out effort for this opportunity.”
A video featuring the departments that received last year’s grants can be viewed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhqluMiBlNQ.
The Nest company operates in both the Unites States and the UK, manufacturing home safety and security equipment. The Leary Firefighters Foundation was established by actor Denis Leary in 2000, after a major structure fire in his hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts, claimed the lives of six firefighters, including his cousin and a childhood friend. The foundation has since partnered with other organizations and companies to provide wide ranging support to fire departments in New York City, Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and elsewhere. More information on the foundation’s work is available at www.learyfirefighters.org.