ORLAND — The Orland Fire Department announced Monday that it has won two grants from the Maine Municipal Association (MMA). Combined, these awards provide more than $3,600 that will help to cover the cost of much-needed safety equipment for the trained volunteers who serve their communities through their work with the department.
The Ed MacDonald Safety Enhancement Grant from the Maine Municipal Association Workers Compensation Fund will provide Orland Fire with up to $1,238 for the purchase of new LED stop/slow signs and reflective safety vests.
“Almost half of the Orland Fire Department’s approximately 120 emergency calls per year involve traffic control and other work in and along our roads,” said Assistant Chief Julia Gray. “Many of these roads have speed limits at or above 45 miles per hour, and at certain times of the year are extremely busy with both local and tourist traffic.
“The risk to our personnel in these settings is very high, and it is critically important that our personnel can be seen, and that their instructions can be clearly seen. Improved visibility of both signs and people (with vests) will have the outcome of reducing the risk of injury to our responders on our roads.”
The second grant received, the Risk Reduction Enhancement Grant, is intended to reduce risks and exposures in the workplace. It will provide the department with up to $2,382, which will cover the full cost of purchasing new back-up cameras with night vision for four of the department’s fire apparatus.
The backing up of fire apparatus is a high-risk activity that has resulted in at least three deaths nationwide this year alone, Gray said. In August 2021, a volunteer firefighter was killed in Somerset, N.Y., after being hit by a backing-up fire apparatus. And in Marietta, Ohio, two pedestrians died after being struck by a backing-up fire tanker in April 2021.
“Aside from initial emergency response, backing of a fire apparatus is the most high-risk operation carried out by our driver/operators,” Gray said. “The nature of these large trucks creates extensive blind spots, which can present a significant hazard to everyone on the fire ground or at an accident scene. We can mitigate that hazard — and potentially even save lives — by installing new back-up cameras.”
The Maine Municipal Association has been awarding safety grants to members of the Workers Compensation Fund since 1999 and has bestowed more than $5.5 million in funding.
Gray said for more information about the Orland Fire Department, including how to become a volunteer, look for the department on social media platform Facebook or call 469-3079.