By CHRIS WOOD
For The Logan Banner
CHAPMANVILLE - Bobby Boehm is a man on a mission. A lieutenant with the Chapmanville Volunteer Fire Department, Boehm applied for and received a grant of $5,500 for new equipment from Brothers Helping Brothers, a nonprofit charity that helps small rural fire departments throughout the nation with equipment and education.
"We applied for four pieces of equipment," Boehm said. "Three of them are the same. It's called a falcon hook, and it helps with ventilation and forceful entry, prying. It's about a 6-foot pole. We also applied for a ground monitor. You can secure it to a stationary object and flow large amounts of water on building fires. That frees up firemen to be able to do search-and-rescue and other firefighting tactics, whatever they need to do."
The Chapmanville Volunteer Fire Department covers an area of 95 square miles, which includes coal mines. While not every county in West Virginia produces coal, all counties receive a severance tax from the coal industry.
When the coal market plummeted, fire departments and county commissions saw a decrease in funding.
"Being a volunteer department, fundraisers and the funds that we get from the state just wasn't enough and left us applying for grants," Boehm said. "It helps us to save money to put toward other additional things that we need. This is an economically depressed area, so this is definitely going to boost the ISO (Insurance Services Office) ratings for equipment on our apparatus and help with homeowners insurance because we are required to have certain pieces of equipment on our apparatus."
That equipment was delivered to the fire station Tuesday by Nick Magoteaux, the executive director of Brothers Helping Brothers.
Magoteaux helped to start the group in 2014 when Art Springer, a fellow firefighter in Phillipsburg, Ohio, contracted the H1N1 flu and died at age 42. The department had raised money to help pay for his medical bills. Next, they established a scholarship fund for his 13-year-old daughter, Mollie, who is blind. During a three-month span, they raised $25,000 for Mollie.
"Afterward, we had a T-shirt campaign," Magoteaux said. "On the front of it, it said 'Brothers Helping Brothers' because that's what we were doing. We decided that that was a pretty cool name, so we decided to do something with it. Art was very passionate about making sure we had the right tools and equipment to do our job in our department, so we decided to make it up on a much bigger level. Everything that we do kind of honors his memory."
Brothers Helping Brothers is based in Dayton, Ohio, but its grants go nationwide.
"This will be our 10th equipment grant that we funded," said Magoteaux. "Our grants have gone to Texas, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia now. Our goal is to eventually have a chapter in each state that can help mitigate problems, and then we as a whole hold a national body of support for those small organizations and then get out equipment as much as we can, get the right tools in the hands of the guys that need it so they can do their job quickly and efficiently and safely."
For more information or to make a donation to the Chapmanville Volunteer Fire Department, call 304-855-4543 or visit its Facebook page. For more information or to make a donation to Brothers Helping Brothers, visit www.brothershelpingbrothers.org.