Graham Fire & Rescue Awarded $25,000 Grant from the Washington Department of Labor & Industries for Firefighter Health and Safety

August 30th, 2023

Graham Fire & Rescue is pleased to announce that it has been honored with a significant grant of $25,000 from the Washington Department of Labor & Industries. This grant is part of the Firefighter Injury and Illness Reduction (FIIRE) Pilot Program, aimed at enhancing firefighters’ health and safety during their careers.

The FIIRE program is a two-year safety initiative for employers of professional firefighters to reduce incidents of firefighter occupational injuries and illnesses through proactive risk management. This program was developed in collaboration with the Washington Fire Chiefs and the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters.

Firefighting is an inherently hazardous profession, and our firefighters’ safety and well-being are paramount. The grant, awarded through the Washington Department of Labor & Industries, reflects both organizations’ commitment to ensuring that those who risk their lives to protect our communities have the resources necessary to maintain their health and safety.

The $25,000 grant will purchase lift assist devices and Versapro response gear. Versapro is a PFAS-free, lightweight alternative response gear designed by Lion. It is worn when responding to motor vehicle accidents and other emergencies where firefighters wear their traditional bunker gear, except for structural fires.

The drive to purchase Versapro gear comes after the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) announced that PFAS or “forever chemicals” were found in traditional bunker gear and have been linked to cancer – the leading cause of firefighter death.

This funding will empower Graham Fire & Rescue to reduce the time firefighters spend in traditional bunker gear and further improve its firefighting personnel’s overall health and well-being.

Additionally, the grant allows Graham Fire & Rescue to save on fees for worker compensation, saving an estimated $60,000 per year.

“We are deeply honored to have been chosen as a recipient of this generous grant,” said Matt Waltrip, Assistant Chief of EMS at Graham Fire & Rescue. “The safety of our firefighters is a top priority, and this grant will enable us to invest in the tools and technology necessary to ensure that our firefighters can continue to serve our community with the highest safety and effectiveness.”

The collaboration between Graham Fire & Rescue and the Washington Department of Labor & Industries exemplifies a shared commitment to firefighter well-being. It underscores the importance of partnerships between public service entities and government agencies. This grant reinforces the dedication of these organizations to nurturing a culture of safety and innovation within the fire service.

As Graham Fire & Rescue implements this grant, the organization remains steadfast in its mission to protect and serve the community. The $25,000 award from the Washington Department of Labor & Industries will undoubtedly contribute to the overall effectiveness and safety of Graham Fire & Rescue’s response efforts, ensuring its firefighters can continue serving with the highest level of professionalism, dedication, and resilience.