Forty-two firefighters with the Big Bear City Fire Department will be getting new boots, given approval of a CalFire grant to the agency, which was approved by its governing board, the Big Bear City Community Services Directors, in their meeting yesterday evening. Fire Captain Mike Maltby had applied on behalf of the department in February, requesting the 50% matching grant that would cover $6,930 of the nearly $14,000 expenditure to purchase equipment specific for wildland fires; that equipment includes quantities of 42 each for wildland helmets, firefighter goggles and gloves, and wildland boots. As explained by Big Bear City Fire Chief Jeff Willis at the September 21 CSD meeting, “When you’re working the line for days on end, comfort is more important than price.” Willis tells KBHR that though each firefighter has the “station boots” that exceed the minimum standard, wildland-specific gear is necessary and appropriate when battling blazes in the forest. The new boots will have increased ankle support and better heels for traction, which will contribute to firefighters’ comfort and safety. As far as matching the grant by putting up half of the nearly $14,000 tab to purchase 42 sets of wildland firefighting gear, the Big Bear City Fire Department had already set aside $10,000 for this fiscal year, specifically designated for matching grant purposes. This week’s CSD meeting also included the oath of office for two new paid-call firefighters; after five months and nearly 300 hours of training, Big Bear City Fire’s new PCFs, as of Monday, are David Tharp and Jonathan Bidwell. Lastly, the Big Bear City Fire Department’s annual report for fiscal year 2008/2009 is now available; during this past year, the department responded to 3,311 calls. Only 350 of these were fire incidents; the others were for emergency medical incidents.
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