Grants, New Volunteers, and a Great Attitude Gives Orleans Volunteer Fire Department What They Need to Pick Up the Pieces
Press release from the Orleans Volunteer Fire Department:
Amid some of the largest wildfires California has ever seen, the dedicated volunteers of the Orleans Volunteer Fire Department (OVFD) are responding at all hours to a wide variety of emergencies, from wildland and structure fires to medical emergencies and vehicle accidents.
The 35-mile-long response area is encompassed by the beautiful mountainous canyons along Highway 96 and the Klamath River. A vehicle accident in the Klamath River corridor can result in the vehicle off the road on a steep drop-off towards the river, accessible only by a technical rescue team.
The OVFD is now better able to act as their own tactical rescue team after receiving the Coast Central Credit Union Dean G. Christensen Community Investment Program Grant which has allowed the department to purchase more modern and safe rope rescue equipment.
“This equipment will enable dramatic improvements in response time as well as rescuer and patient safety when responding to over-the-bank incidents,” says Penny Eckert, Treasurer and EMT.
Along with this generous grant for rope rescue equipment, in April 2018, OVFD was awarded a grant from the federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant program to purchase a new much- needed rescue vehicle to replace their ancient Ford F250. Deep South Fire Trucks has built and delivered the new vehicle, replacing the 1988 truck OVFD has relied on for medical response for many years.
In addition to new equipment and a new vehicle, the OVFD is always actively recruiting new volunteers. Recently several younger members of the community have stepped up, supplementing the volunteers who have been responding for decades and providing new energy and life to the department.
“People should join us, there’s lots of skills we draw from, and it’s good community based work,” says Vikki Preston, a Firefighter, Medical Responder, and the granddaughter of OVFD’s first Fire Chief.
OVFD has also begun building a new fire station to replace its current unsafe and undersized fire hall, built before the 1964 flood, and rebuilt following the devastating flood event. This huge endeavor has received support from the Humboldt County Fire Chiefs Association, Measure Z funds, Caltrans, local businesses, many local donors, and a generous property owner in Orleans who has donated land for the new firehall.Though OVFD has a solid base of skilled volunteer builders, there still is a need for materials and we are actively exploring funding options to complete the new fire station.
The Orleans Volunteer Fire Department wants to thank the Humboldt County Fire Chiefs Association and the Measure Z sales tax initiative voted on by residents of Humboldt County. Both have been a great support to the Fire Department by providing much needed up-to-date fire related equipment: handheld and mobile radios, structure fire turnouts, wildland fire protective gear, self-contained breathing apparatus, and a modern structure fire truck, obtained through Brindle Mountain Fire Apparatus.