SFD lands $11k federal grant

Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

The Starkville Fire Department awaits approval to receive a Homeland Security grant for new rescue mission equipment for its seven Mississippi Task Force members.

Homeland Security approved the $11,000 grant for the rescue equipment Oct. 1 and it was received by SFD on Nov. 9.

“This is going to be for rescue dive and tactical equipment for (SFD) firefighters who are on the Mississippi Task Force,” SFD Chief Charles Yarbrough said.

The $11,000 pays for dry diving suits, portable scene lights, tactical helmets and diving knives.

“The drysuits are used when they’re in the water— of course, they’re in the water a good bit when they’re doing swift water (rescue),” Yarbrough said.

Yarbrough said the new suits would be personalized and would help the task force members stay warm and protected underwater.

“Each one of them are made specifically for the person, so they’re pretty much tailored suits for each individual, which is important to have because they get so tight they have to be made a certain way,” Yarbrough said. “So it’s important everybody has their own personalized equipment to keep them protected because right now we don’t have them.”

Yarbrough said SFD Task Force members needed the suits for the recent October swift water rescue mission in Florida after Hurricane Michael.

“When they went to Florida, not long ago, they actually needed (the dry suits) but they didn’t have them,” Yarbrough said. “They had to borrow them from different departments so it’s good to have our own equipment to where we’re not borrowing. We thank the other departments, but we’re happy that we’ll have our own equipment now.”

SFD Lt. Brian Arnett also needed a dry suit in his September Virginia rescue mission after Hurricane Florence.

“We had one who went to Virginia and he needed it in Virginia as well when the hurricane came through,” Yarbrough said. “They needed them both places.”

SFD has seven members on the Mississippi Task Force, with six certified for swift water rescue. Yarbrough said he would order the equipment Wednesday morning if the board approved the grant.

“Everything should be here by the first of the year,” Yarbrough said. Yarbrough said SFD getting the grant is significant because grants are competitive.

“Grants are really, really competitive, so it’s important that we’re applying to grants every time we get the opportunity,” Yarbrough said. “Every grant I can think of I try to apply for it because they’re so competitive.”

“And it’s good for our department that out of all the departments in Mississippi, we had the opportunity to receive the grant,” Yarbrough said.

The grant is also signficant due to SFD’s limited funds.

“There are things that our Task Force members need that is hard for the city to buy based on our budget,” Yarbrough said. “And this will help us get the much-needed equipment and we don’t have to worry about paying for it out of our budget.”


SFD is expecting to get a new fire truck to replace Fire Station One Ladder One next year. The replacement need comes after mechanical issues with Ladder One.

“I have five people (from the SFD truck committee) over there in Ocala, Florida right now and they’re actually previewing the truck,” Yarbrough said. “So they’re going over every speck of the truck— everything from the color of the truck to the lights, the seats. They’re going over every inch. I think it’s 27 pages of information they’re going over on the truck.”

“So the truck is in line to start being built and we still expect delivery October 2019,” Yarbrough said. E-One Manufacturing is the company making the new truck.

“This one we decided to go with a different company,” Yarbrough said. “We thought it was important to try a different company and see if we got better results this time so we think we’re going to have better results this time.”

The truck will cost just over $1.4 million, with a payment plan for over a twelve-year time period.

In the meantime, SFD is using a reserve truck.

“We’re only using the ladder truck if we really need it so right now we’re not using it unless we absolutely have to have to,” Yarbrough said. “We have it on standby status right now.”