Reed City accepts grant for rescue equipment

REED CITY – The door of rusty Buick Century was cut like butter Tuesday, as firefighters from the Reed City Fire Department practiced making life-saving cuts with a new set of hydraulic rescue tools.

The department purchased the tools after being awarded a $16,000 grant from AAA.

“We are very excited to get this grant. It came at a perfect time when we needed to upgrade our tools,” said Reed City Assistant Fire Chief Dave Belden.

In 2011, the department used their former extrication tools for 28 auto accidents – 74 percent of all auto accidents within their 90-square-mile coverage area.

The new equipment is a welcome addition to the department and will help the firemen do their jobs more efficiently, Belden said.

The tools purchased with the grant money include a spreader and cutter to replace the department's 15-year-old spreader and cutter. Both of the new tools exert 236,000 pounds of pressure on each square inch of metal they cut.

“With the old technology, we’d never be able to do what we can with these,” Belden said.

The grant also funded a mini cutter for smaller lines such as brake lines as well as other small tools and accessories.

AAA awards between two and four rescue equipment grants to fire departments in the state annually, said Jack Peet, AAA northern region traffic safety manager.

Recipients are selected based on the quality of their current equipment, the number of extrication certified officers a department has and the traffic flow in the area.

Applicant’s also must obtain letters of recommendation from three entities willing to vouch for the department’s need. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Department, Osceola County Emergency Medical Services and Michigan State Police wrote recommendations for the Reed City Fire Department’s application.

“Reed City wrote up a very nice application and they were up against 25 other departments,” Peet said. “When we saw the professionalism of the department and the number of runs they have and the fact that they were going to be able to share the equipment with other departments through a mutual aid agreement, we were pleased to be able to do this for them.”

The new hydraulic rescue equipment will help the department save lives more quickly in emergency situations, Peet said.

“Newer cars have much stronger metal and a lot of the older cutters are totally ineffective,” Peet said. “We’re glad to be able to get them some better cutters. We hope it will never have to be used, but realistically we know it will.”

The Buick Century was donated by Class Act Towing in Reed City for the demonstration.