CENTER POINT, Ala. — A new grant is changing how four fire departments prepare for emergencies in two counties.
The Center Point Fire District recently received a FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant for $364,003 for distance training and education to share.
For many years, firefighters would sit in chairs and watch recorded videos for training. Now they can sit in those same chairs to team up with other fire crews for training using new video conference technology without ever leaving the fire station.
CP Battalion Chief Wes Ward, "It will definitely be a game changer for us. We will be able to deliver training more frequently.”
Here’s why Chief Ward is saying that: Firefighters from the CP Fire district, Trussville, Springville and the Fultondale Fire departments all benefit.
“With this new equipment those firefighters will be able to stay in their coverage area without missing any calls," says Chief Ward.
It is something Springville Fire Chief Richard Harvey says he loves.
Chief Harvey says, “(It) will save us on expenses. Number 1 we are a 100 miles from the Alabama Fire College. So we have to pay for hotel, board, room and meals. So it greatly reduces our expenses. We are unlimited in the amount of training that we can do there.”
Chief Harvey says logging hours in a virtual classroom, not on the road for training, means people can earn more EMS certifications and save the department a lot of money.
"When you have an engine company that stays in its’ area it actually reduces response times. They have certain requirements of continuing education that we have to meet. It’s those hours that are so important for us to meet.”
Chief Ward says the CP Fire District hopes to have the virtual training operational by December 1st.
Chief Ward and Chief Harvey say the new technology will also allow for regular meetings between the four departments.
Congressman Gary Palmer was instrumental in pushing through the applications for approval.