The Scuffleton Rural Fire Services Inc. is taking steps to assure they are ready for the next water emergency effecting their area with the purchase of an aluminum rescue boat.
Through a partnership with USDA Rural Development the fire department received a $31 thousand grant in 2020.
Scuffleton realized the need to purchase a new boat after a water rescue in 2020. Damage sustained to the boat during the operation was unrepairable.
The money awarded to them from the insurance company would have covered the cost of purchasing another rigid hull inflatable boat.
After further consideration of their mission of water rescue in the low-lying creek beds in their coverage area, the fire department felt they needed an aluminum boat to more effectively handle their mission.
“We got some money from the insurance company to replace the boat but we were still short,” said Scuffleton Fire Chief Robert Daugherty. “Then we found out about USDA and it was a miracle, I must say.”
Daugherty reached out to Kim Daniels.
Daniels is the USDA RD Area Specialist who covers the Down East and Crystal Coast parts of North Carolina. She reviews financial data, organizational documents, develops loans and grants based on financial needs of the community applying for assistance.
After reviewing the application and data submitted to Rural Development, she had some great news to share with the fire department.
According to Government Information Website, the median household income of the applying town must be less than 70 percent of the state non-metropolitan median household income.
After completing the paperwork and crunching the numbers she came back with some encouraging news.
“She called me up and said we qualified for a 75 percent grant to cover the cost of the boat and equipment,” said Daugherty
The 75 percent equated to a $31 thousand grant of the purchase and load out cost.
The N.C. Insurance Commissioner/Fire Marshall’s Office donated a $5 thousand grant.
According to the N.C. Department of Insurance, this money was made available to volunteer fire departments that received less than $50,000 from municipal and county governments; officials say it will be used for safety equipment purchases to help protect firefighters amid the coronavirus pandemic.
This money was combined with $2.5 thousand insurance payout from their previous boat and a private donation left the fire department needing to cover only $680.
“We had some money put aside, not a lot, but we were able to cover the remainder of the cost and it wouldn’t hurt us,” said Daugherty.
On average the Scuffleton Rural Fire Service answers three to four water rescue calls a year. When it was announced that the town would receive a new rescue boat a great sense of relief went through the local community.
“When we delivered our commitment to the department, there were several residents at the meeting who had been rescued during the flooding from Hurricane Matthew,” said Daniels. “They were almost in tears discussing how relieved they were to know that should the need arise in the future, Scuffleton would have state of the art equipment to respond even more quickly than they did in the past.”
With the rescue boat secured Scuffleton Rural Fire Services Inc. is beginning to work with surrounding fire departments, in the county, to form a water rescue team.
“This is something this county has never had and could be instrumental in saving lives when the next natural disaster hits Green County.
During major flooding events 50 to 60 percent of the county is apt to be underwater, according to Daugherty.
Currently there are 40 volunteer fire fighters from Green and Pitt counties who are interested in forming and training for a water rescue team.
The Scuffleton team has not been called to use the boats yet but they’re constantly training for when the time comes.
Daugherty is very pleased with the relationship USDA Rural Development has with his department and the surrounding areas.
They are currently working with rural development to purchase a new pumper truck for the station and in there is talk of a new fire station down the road.