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Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue Among Emergency Organizations To Receive New Equipment From State Grant

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Last Updated on July 30, 2019 11:43 am

Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue's Water / Swift-water Rescue Team recently received new equipment through a grant from North Carolina Emergency Management.

The department's equipment included one Zodiac Rescue Boat and two additional motors, Blowing Rock Fire Chief Kent Graham tells WataugaOnline.com. Graham went on to add that a choice of equipment beyond the boat and one motor was offered and the department chose the back-up motor as, “we were well equipped otherwise and floodwaters are full of debris and likely to damage the very specifically designed lower units of the outboard motors. With two rescue boats and motors in service the redundancy of a third motor was our best option.”

The equipment received totals approximately $30,000. Last year Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue was awarded a grant for all new SCBA (airpacks) totaling over $250,000. Photos of the new equipment can be found below.   

Graham also said that prior to the equipment grant the Rescue Team had one Zodiac rescue boat and one outboard motor.

Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue's Water / Swift-water Rescue Team has been deployed in recent hurricane flooding to Cumberland, Robeson, Jones, and Duplin Counties. They have also been dispatched to assist with local area flooding in Caldwell and Watauga Counties. All Blowing Rock full-time and some part-time staff is water rescue certified.  

Graham also notes that, “Many of the significant bodies of water (ice) accessible by the public in Watauga County are all in the Blowing Rock response district (except for the mall parking lot)… Price Lake, Sweetgrass, Bass Lake, Trout Lake, Sims Pond.”

The grant process included mandatory Team Leader meetings in Raleigh, Chief Officer signatures on a Memorandum of Agreement concerning maintenance of equipment and commitment to deployment response in North Carolina, and other equipment and training requirements such as Rescue Boat Operator certifications. 

The grant is part of more than $2 million in search and rescue funding that was included in the Governor’s budget last year, and appropriated by the legislature.

“It’s important that North Carolina remain ready for future storms and this vital equipment will give emergency response professionals more of the tools they need to keep families safe,” said Governor Cooper.

“This is significant for our water rescue teams, because for many years we relied on limited grants to fund our search and rescue program,” said North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “These new boats, motors and equipment will help make sure our water rescue teams are ready to respond anywhere floods happen.”

About $1.4 million was spent on new water rescue equipment, including 46 inflatable swift water rescue boats, 62 motors and accessories to support the teams, including fuel tanks, life jackets, dry suits, paddles and other gear to maintain the boats and motors.

Twenty-six state-sponsored water rescue teams from across North Carolina received gear including: 

  • Apex Fire Department
  • Asheville Fire Department
  • Alexander County Rescue Squad 
  • Blowing Rock Fire Department
  • Brunswick County Emergency Services
  • Burke County Emergency Services
  • Buncombe County Emergency Services
  • Cary Fire Department
  • Charlotte Fire Department
  • Cherokee Fire Department
  • Davie County Rescue Squad
  • Greensboro Fire Department
  • Fayetteville Fire Department
  • Greenville/New Bern Fire Departments
  • Henderson County Emergency Services
  • Lewisville Fire Department
  • Lincoln County Emergency Services
  • Lumberton Rescue
  • Mooresville Fire Department
  • New Hanover County Fire Department
  • Onslow County Emergency Services
  • Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill Fire Departments
  • Rocky Mount Fire Department
  • Rockingham County Emergency Services
  • South Orange Rescue Squad
  • Winston-Salem Fire Department

More information on North Carolina’s water rescue program is available here: https://www.ncdps.gov/emergency-management/search-rescue/swiftwater-search-rescue.

Photos courtesy Kent Graham, Chief Blowing Rock Fire.

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