New ‘turnout gear’ on the way for Greenville public safety firefighters

By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 12:26 pm on Wednesday, December 18, 2013

GREENVILLE — When this city’s new director of public safety, Mark Reiss, came on board this past summer, one of the first things he noticed was the age and condition of the department’s firefighting “turnout gear.”

Much of this outer protective clothing was considerably older than the equipment’s average 13-year life expectancy.

That’s been an ongoing issue for the department since then, but that’s about to change for the better.

Recently, the Greenville Area Community Foundation opted to award a grant in the amount of $45,840 to the Greenville Department of Public Safety for the purchase of new firefighting equipment.

Due to regular turnover in the department, the need had recently become especially critical, since much of the gear must be specifically fitted to each firefighter.

At a recent meeting, the Greenville City Council voted to accept the grant after hearing from Reiss.

“What happens over time is that the coats, gloves and pants tend to degrade in their thermal protection,” Reiss said. “It doesn’t protect personnel against heat as it would have in its younger days.”

Reiss explained that he had requested the grant earlier this year and on Nov. 19 he received a letter saying his grant request had been approved.

Councilman Mark Lehman noted that receiving a grant of this size during such “tight” economic times was something of a coup for Reiss.

“A grant in that amount from the Community Foundation is really staggering,” Lehman said.

Mayor Pro-Tem Frances Schuleit added the Greenville Area Community Foundation has been a great support to the city over the years.

“They are very sensitive to our needs,” Schuleit said. “They recognize this has been our most difficult budget year. I feel very grateful.”

The council voted unanimously to accept the grant.

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