Thanks to donations and fundraising efforts by the Nichols Fire Department, the 16 members of the fire fighting crews have new gear from head to toe, replacing fire-fighting uniforms reaching an expired 10 years of age.
Fire Chief Kevin Flynn, now in his fourth year in command, said he wanted to get “the latest and the greatest” gear for his volunteers, noting there have been a lot of technology changes in fire fighting gear to steer away from cancer-causing smoke and keep fire fighters safe. The new gear replaces outfits that actually expired in October of last year, but due to the pandemic, it took a little longer to raise the funds needed to buy the new gear.
The team now has new outfits for every member of the force, although one new member, Gary Savano, has now been added and the group is working to try to collect the approximately $3,250 in funds to outfit that volunteer as well.
Bought from Sandry Fire Supply in Dewitt, the new gear includes bunker pants and coats, boots, INOTX cancer blocking helmets, gloves and max headgear.
Flynn said cancer protection is built right into the gear, which fits tighter in the pant areas, not allowing dangerous smoke to seep in through the wrist or ankle areas.
Flynn said he’s especially thankful for a $30,000 donation toward the over $50,000 in equipment from the Joseph & Edward Ryan Memorial Trust fund of West Liberty, which the department first applied for in September of 2020.
Although the department got another $6,721 from both Pike Township officials and the City of Nichols council, the fire department still had to come up with another $6,721 of their own, something Flynn said took a while because of issues with the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the fire department figured out a way to get around the restrictions of the pandemic by hosting a drive-thru pancake supper. Flynn said the new idea worked great as the department held their largest fundraiser in 17 years, noting supporters even from outside the fire department district came out to support the March breakfast. He credited an article in the Index promoting the event for its success.
He said the department is also in need of new air packs in the future, but said they’ll be fundraising for equipment necessities as the pandemic subsides and they can get back to their soup supper and host another pancake breakfast.
The department also has a new trailer for their bin rescue equipment obtained last year to aid firemen in an emergency situation of a person trapped in a corn bin.
The chief said there are a few accessories the department needs to add to the trailer to make it complete, including installing decals on the trailer. He said some of that was put on the back burner, as the new bunker gear became a top priority for the department.
Flynn said several of his newer fire fighters would soon be getting training as well from the Iowa Fire Service and said he's always looking for new members.