Since the 2006 inception of Georgia-Pacific’s Bucket Brigade program, the initiative has awarded nearly $3 million in grants for lifesaving equipment to fire departments serving the company’s facility communities across the country.
The most recent recipient of a part of those funds is the Hattiesburg Fire Department, which recently received a $5,000 grant for a fast-attack ground monitor, a portable nozzle that flows at approximately 500 gallons per minute.
Jana Bryant, public affairs manager for Georgia-Pacific’s Leaf River Cellulose plant in New Augusta, presented a ceremonial check for the amount to Mayor Toby Barker and fire department officials Thursday at the Hattiesburg Police and Fire Training Academy.
“It’s one way that we can be involved in our communities and give back to our communities, and help equip local fire departments with the critical equipment that they need,” Bryant said. “In some cases, our facilities are often located in smaller, more rural areas or in the counties, and so that’s a great need and a great partnership that we’ve had for a long time.
“That helps us support entities in fire departments that help provide critical services to not only our mills, but where our employees live and the surrounding communities.”
The grant application for the fast-attack ground monitor was submitted by Jennifer Shows, grant writer for the city. The equipment will enhance firefighters’ ability to quickly deliver large volumes of water or foam solution into areas with heat or HAZMAT exposures.
“It can be left on the ground and it oscillates back and forth,” Battalion Chief Barry Collins said. “We can back away from that and leave it in place to reduce the hazard to our firefighters within large facilities that may have chemical releases or high heat.
“It’s also the hose and apparatus that goes along with that, so we’re picking up the capability to operate four or five hundred feet away from our attack module.”
In 2019, the Bucket Brigade program awarded more than $190,000 in grants to departments in their service area. Grants are based on department needs and are funded by the Georgia-Pacific Foundation and local Georgia-Pacific facilities.
Georgia-Pacific also gives all grant applicants free memberships to the National Volunteer Fire Council, which provides access to tools, resources, programs and advocacy for first responders across the country.
In addition to Mississippi, fire departments in 14 other states were recipients of grants this year: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“We are proud to be a recipient of grant funding that has made such a large impact on fire departments across the country, Hattiesburg Fire Department Chief Sherrocko Stewart said in a statement. “Community partners like GP allow us to do more, and we are grateful for the funding that will help us increase our capacity of service to the citizens of Hattiesburg and our surrounding community.”