Verbena Fire Department awarded grant

Published 8:02 am Saturday, May 28, 2016

Welcome news: Verbena Fire Department received a grant in the amount of $41,191 that will be used for equipment. (Photo by Angela Hayes)

Welcome news: Verbena Fire Department received a grant in the amount of $41,191 that will be used for equipment. (Photo by Angela Hayes)

By Angela Hayes | Special to the Advertiser

Volunteer fire departments depend on fundraising and grants to survive, so a grant recently received by the Verbena Fire Department was welcomed with thanksgiving.

VFD received an Assistance to Firefighters Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the amount of $41,191.

“It’s a blessing for the people of Verbena—just to have the safe and proper tools to work with,” Chief Allen Goree said.

Verbena was awarded the grant during the third round of handouts, which continue weekly.

So far, $2.4 million has been awarded to 370 departments nationwide, with 30 specifically in Alabama, including Verbena.

$12,500 of Verbena’s grant was earmarked for equipment, leaving $39,150 for personal protection equipment.

“We have to do a complete inventory of each piece of the PPE—that’s the helmet, jacket, pants, boots, which runs around $5,000 a set, per person,” VFD secretary Shannon Goree said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but well worth it knowing the guys are safe.

“They are extremely valuable. If they get scorched or tear in a place that can’t be repaired by an approved NFPA company, then the suits have to be shredded at an additional cost to us. Without a proper PPE, the firefighters can’t go inside a burning dwelling and you could lose your home.”

The department’s number of volunteers has increased from five in 2013 to 27 in 2016, so having the PPEs are critical to the operation.

“It will make a big difference,” volunteer Michael Varden said.

In addition to the PPEs, Verbena will now be able to purchase 5 Toughbooks, laptops that will run the ACTIVE 911 app, at $2,500 apiece.

The app uses a 911-generated report that is sent out to each member of the fire department, reducing critical response time, saving money, simplifying radio communications and providing potentially life-saving details to first responders.

Learning how to save money while increasing production has been a challenge the department has excelled at.

Already this year, the team has responded to 141 calls ranging from fires to medical calls and wrecks, and looks to have 350 calls under its belt by the end of the year. Being the center-point between the Interstate 65 200 and 205 exits, the department is responsible for covering a 46-square mile area that includes seven miles of interstate, Highway 31, Highway 143, the south side of Mitchell Dam, the Ridge, and Highway 22.

“These are all factors that go into a grant request,” Shannon Goree said. “We get all the data together and turn it in to our grant writer, Cindy Monroe.”

But that data is not just used to procure monies to help keep the fire department open, it also plays an important role in the department’s ISO rating, which is tied to residents’ homeowners insurance.

The department has also implemented a cadet program for students ages 15 through 18 that is getting a great response.

For more information, or to see how you can volunteer your time, contact Goree at (205) 312-1060, follow the department’s Facebook page at, or stop by one of the weekly meetings held at the fire station at 7 p.m. on Mondays.