Bridgeport Fire awarded grant toward grain bin rescue equipment needs

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Accessories purchase to supplement Wauzeka Fire rescue tube

By Correne Martin

The Bridgeport and Rural Prairie du Chien Fire Department is one of 160 rural emergency service agencies receiving a portion of $450,000 in grants from Compeer Financial’s corporate giving program, Fund for Rural America. The local department was awarded $2,100, with which it will purchase grain bin rescue equipment.

According to fire chief Russ Gillitzer, the department feels obtaining such equipment is for the greater good of Crawford County and its surrounding communities. The purchase should be finalized in the next week or so.

He said, Wauzeka Fire and Rescue was the grant recipient of a $5,000-grain bin rescue tube system in June. After talking with Wauzeka’s officers, the Bridgeport Fire Department decided its $2,100 would be most effective if it was used toward equipment to supplement the rescue device. 

“When they received the grain bin rescue tube, there were some items they didn’t get that were recommended accessories,” Gillitzer said. The department is looking to purchase equipment like ropes, harnesses, gas detectors, lockout/tagout kits and carbinder hooks, for example.

He added that Wauzeka, Bridgeport and other area departments have also discussed possibly acquiring an enclosed trailer so the grain bin rescue tube and accompanying equipment can all stay together in one place. Though, that decision has yet to be made.

As for grant and accessories purchase, Gillitzer stated, “We decided everybody in the county can use this. If there’s a grain bin incident and a call goes out, they’re gonna need anybody and everybody. We already work together well and I think we need to continue that, especially for situations like this.”

Additionally, the fire chief is proud that some of the department’s hard-earned fundraising dollars can be used along with the grant to make these types of community investments possible.

Compeer Financial plans to offer its Emergency Response Equipment Program annually, with the application process being open during the month of August. This year, the $450,000 in grants, across Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota, are funding a variety of needs, including updating communication equipment and purchasing new protective gear, thermal imaging cameras and portable medical equipment for first responders.

“By helping get these first responders the tools and equipment they need, they can better serve our rural communities and farms,” said John Monson, chair of the Fund for Rural America Board of Trustees. “Ensuring that all aspects of our communities are well-equipped to serve all of their citizens is important to our cooperative, clients and team members.”

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