MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 9, 2013

Bucket Brigade awards grant to Keefeton


— The Keefeton Volunteer Fire Department will receive a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) equipment under the Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade grant program. Rodney Bond, vice president of the Muskogee Mill, presented the fire unit with a check for $10,000 to purchase the equipment at their monthly meeting Nov. 7.

“We are so grateful for this grant. It’s a godsend,” Keefeton Fire Chief T. Speck Plunkett said in a media release. “Small fire departments like us can’t afford major purchases like this at one time. With this grant, we’ll be able to return the borrowed SCBAs to the Muskogee Fire Department, get our own, and keep our volunteer firefighters safe.”

A record 55 fire departments will receive Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade grants this year totaling $270,000, the largest amount since the program began in 2006.

The program has now surpassed the $1.25 million mark in cash grants to fire departments that serve Georgia-Pacific’s facility communities across the country.

“We’re proud to have the opportunity to help meet the needs of the Keefeton Fire Department,” Rodney Bond, vice president of Georgia-Pacific’s Muskogee facility, said in the release. “The Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade grants allow first-responders to better ensure the safety and security of the people in our communities and our neighbors, including our employees. That’s important because we work, live and play here too.”

The grants, generally ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, are based on need and are funded by the Georgia-Pacific Foundation and local Georgia-Pacific facilities.

This year’s program applicants requested funds to replace items such as worn out protective clothing, cracked helmets, aging hoses and nozzles, and hand-held radios — essential equipment that will help keep firefighters safer and make their jobs easier.

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) says about 70 percent of the more than one million U.S. firefighters are volunteers, according to the release. Georgia-Pacific has partnered with the NVFC since 2008 to increase awareness about the grant program. Georgia-Pacific also gives all grant applicants free NVFC memberships, which provides access to tools, resources, programs and advocacy for first-responders across the nation.

“The NVFC is pleased to partner with Georgia-Pacific, which has donated nearly $1.5 million in grants, fire safety educational materials and memberships to local volunteer first-responder communities,” Heather Schafer, NVFC’s executive director, said in the release. “This support goes a long way in helping departments protect the communities they serve.”

The fire departments receiving grants this year span 21 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.