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Seeley Lake Fire Department Receives $6,000 in Grants


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Seeley Lake Fire District Administrator Lynn Richards and Seeley Lake Fire Chief Bob Vanden Heuvel accept the $1,000 grant from AAA MountainWest Board Member John Burns and AAA MountainWest Director of Sales Julie Tomasik.

SEELEY LAKE - The Seeley Lake Rural Fire District has not been just responding to emergencies this past spring. They also secured two grants totaling $6,000 for personal protective gear and children's educational materials.

Every year Town Pump recognizes the importance of firefighters and their dedication to helping others. They understand the demand for equipment is enormous. They offered $500,000 in grants to Montana fire departments to help improve the safety of Montana communities.

Seeley Lake Fire Chief Bob Vanden Heuvel applied for the grant and received the maximum amount, $5,000. Vanden Heuvel said they will use it for personal protective gear including replacement boots, gloves, nomex hoods and possibly purchase new gear for members who don't have gear that fits properly.

"It will be enough to put some band-aids on the big picture which is we need to replace our full turnouts for all our members," said Vanden Heuvel who added replacing the gear for one volunteer is about $2,800. "It's a good band-aid and we are sure appreciative of it."

Also recognizing rural departments and acknowledging the sacrifices, hard work and long hours Montana's volunteer firefighters give, AAA MountainWest awarded ten rural fire department grants for $1,000, to be used toward education programs in their communities.

District Administrator Lynn Richards put in for the grant for the district. She highlighted several of the District's outreach opportunities: the pancake breakfast for pre-schoolers; the kid's fire safety demonstration trailer at the Seeley Lake Community Fire Preparedness Day in May; the Fourth of July pancake breakfast; fire prevention puppet show and Match Safety programs in the elementary schools and the Missoula County Law Enforcement Youth Camp. They were one of the ten chosen out of more than 20 departments that applied this year.

"We applaud and thank the men and women of the Seeley Lake community who volunteer their time," said Denice Harris, AAA MountainWest spokeswoman."This grant is meant to recognize their sacrifices and provide resources to further their mission of educating community members on a variety of safety topics."

Harris said the reason the Seeley Lake Rural Fire District was chosen for the grants was because of the special way they engage preschool to elementary-aged children. She specifically highlighted the pancake breakfast where fire fighters meet the preschoolers in plain clothing while they are eating their pancakes and then change into their fire fighting gear.

"This helps children to understand that even though the equipment may seem scary, underneath they are just like them, ensuring children will not hide, but go to firefighters in case of an emergency," said Harris.

Vanden Heuvel was proud of Richards for her foresight in applying for the grant and the work she put into writing the grant. He said they have already spent the grant purchasing fire safety give-away items for children.

"All of it is educational," he said. "It is about staying low during a fire, having an escape route, and all that stuff that starts to build in safety and helps kids understand that when fire people show up it means there is someone here to help."

Vanden Heuvel is currently working on another Montana Department of Transportation grant in hopes of securing more funding to help increase the fleet capabilities of the department.


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