Many fire departments across the U.S. are under-funded and volunteer-based. This lack of funding often means many firefighters lack the needed on-scene safety equipment. In response, the world’s leading manufacturer of protective clothing for firefighters is putting its expertise and resources to good use.
Globe Manufacturing Company LLC, Pittsfield, N.H., recently awarded 13 volunteer-run fire departments with a total of 52 sets of life-saving turnout gear in 2017 through the Globe Gear Giveaway. Each of the 13 winning departments received four sets of new, custom-made turnout gear, consisting of a jacket and pants, made from flame-resistant and high-strength fibers by technical textile maker DuPont™ Protection Solutions.
The annual program was founded in 2012 to mark Globe’s 125th anniversary in partnership with DuPont and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), which provides resources, programs, education and advocacy to first responders around the country. Since then, Globe and DuPont have donated 403 sets of turnouts, valued at more than $1 million, to 82 departments across the country.
“The mission of MSA and Globe is to help men and women work in safety so that they, their families and their communities may live in health throughout the world,” says Tom Vetras, director of integration and business lead for Globe. “Our volunteer firefighters deserve nothing less than the very best personal protective equipment.”
More than 870 departments applied for the gear last year. According to the National Fire Protection Association’s Fourth Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service, 13 percent of fire departments reported that they didn’t have enough gear to equip each of their firefighters with their own personal protective clothing (PPC), and 72 percent of departments reported that their PPC was at least 10 years old, which is noncompliant with recommended safety standards.
The NVFC estimates that the cost to train and equip just one firefighter is $20,000. Some volunteer fire departments have limited or no funding from municipal sources, relying instead on fundraising and grants. One of Globe’s winning departments in 2017 has an annual budget of only $2,000 and 16 active firefighters.
To qualify for the Globe Gear Giveaway, volunteer departments can apply through an online application on the NVFC’s website. (The application period opens in early February of each year and closes in June.) Winners are selected by NVFC’s board members through a scoring and review process, and are then forwarded to Globe to coordinate delivery of the gear.
“Our volunteer firefighters selflessly donate their time and energy to protect our communities,” says NVFC chair Kevin D. Quinn, “but they are often forced to make do with gear that is decades old, ill-fitting, is overly worn, and does not meet safety standards. We are grateful to Globe and DuPont for supporting our boots on the ground firefighters through the Globe Gear Giveaway to ensure our volunteers are safely outfitted to answer the call.”
Jahna Peloquin is a writer and editor based in Minneapolis, Minn.