CHULA -- The Chula Volunteer Fire Department, one of seven volunteer units in Tift County, was recently awarded a $49,983 Assistance to Firefighters Grant in the area of Fire Operations and Firefighter Safety.

The grant was approved by the Emergency and Response Directorate, a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Tift County Emergency Management Director Faye Duckworth told commissioners in workshop Tuesday that she is "very, very proud of the Chula Volunteer Fire Department."

"They applied for this grant on their own and were successful," Duckworth said.

Duckworth said the seven volunteer units are planning a session to discuss submitting more grant applications on the next round.

Bobby McLean, Chula VFD captain and Ed Snoddy, stated in a press release that $31,539 of the grant will be used for fire fighting equipment and $18,444 of it for personal protective equipment. Included in the grant award are portable radios valued at $6,023, a cascade air bottle refilling system costing over $16,000, a Scott air-pack breathing system valued at $13,500, gas meter adapters, plus 1,000 feet of 4-inch hose costing over $5,000 with the couplers. Fire fighting bunker gear or protective uniforms will also be included.

McLean said Chula's proximity to I-75, the railroad tracks there, U.S. Highway 41 and the management of 42 dry hydrants within a five-mile radius of Chula were factors considered by those who approved the grant.

Duckworth also announced that she has applied for an Alcoa grant in the amount of $15,000. If awarded, she said, the grant will pay for volunteer firefighters training to certify them as first-responders.

Carl Fortson, director of Tift County's office of code administration, reported that Russell Gay, the department's code enforcement officer, had applied for and received a $28,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Division.

This award brings the total EPD has awarded the department to $91,000 over the last two years.

Fortson said the money will be used to pay for Gay's salary and field equipment. Fortson said EPD paid 100 percent of grant awards last year, but EPD would pay 80 percent of this year's award with the county picking up the balance.

To contact reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.

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