Students Aquiring Firefighter Equipment
One element which makes a community vibrant, is the safety of its citizens.
What if, your house was on fire and the fire department arrived, but could not go inside to rescue somebody because they did not have breathing apparatus, or you are trapped in your car after an accident and the fire department did not have the “jaws of life” to extricate you safely, or you are trapped on a cliff and the fire department did not have a rope rescue system.
Far-fetched situations? Unfortunately, no.
While everybody knows that fire engines carry water and hoses, and yes, they do; and a great amount of additional equipment to handle any emergency. This equipment costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and many small rural volunteer fire departments just do not have the funding for all that equipment. That equipment is used more than water and hoses, as over 80% of all fire department emergencies are medical or rescue related.
Finding A Critical Need
Realizing the need for this critical firefighter equipment, in 2014, JCF worked with the chiefs of the six fire departments in Josephine County to determine their need for new or replacement equipment. It totaled over $500,000. Over the next four years the students raised over $82,000 for these six departments to purchase specific pieces of equipment.
Then in summers of 2017 and 2018, lightning fires erupted and burnt over 300,000 acres each year with heavy smoke choking our skies for months, causing health issues and severely impacting the tourist economy. JCF students set an ambitious goal to further help our fire agencies.
That effort resulted in locating a donor who agreed to contribute $100,000 per year for five years, if JCF could raise matching funds. That means $1 million in new firefighter equipment, if the funds can be raised. The donor stated the match would apply only to small, rural mostly volunteer fire departments in both Josephine and Jackson Counties, who have the most modest budgets. There are 19 fire departments in these two counties and 13 of them qualified for the matching program. They are: Applegate Valley, Butte Falls, Colestin, Evans Valley, Greensprings, Illinois Valley, Jacksonville, Lake Creek, Prospect, Rogue River, Shady Cove, Williams and Wolf Creek.
Because the donor only came forth in early 2019, there was little opportunity to raise the matching $100,000. Instead the donor provided the full $100,000, plus the students raised $14,000. Therefore, a total of $114,000 was donated to 10 of the 13 eligible departments. In 2020, the JCF students raised $35,000, but several of the fire departments were able to raise a total of $65,000 in funds in their own communities. That resulted in the full $100,000 being raised and matched. $200,000 was contributed to 10 fire agencies for much needed equipment.
The Challenge continues
The challenge is that there is a need to raise $300,000 in the next three years to get full matching and reach the $1 million mark. This is where the community can really step up and help.
You can fund project safe
You, your business, or organization can donate to a specific fire department or to the pool with the funds going to the department with the greatest equipment need. Also, you can donate, without a match, to support the other six fire agencies who are not in the match program: Ashland, Fire Districts 3 and 5, Grants Pass, Medford, and Rural Metro.