Mount Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department purchases new gear

Mount Pleasant VFD gets $579,000 in grants funds

T-L File Photo Mount Pleasant firefighters crowd around their truck at a fire scene in March. The department recently received nearly $600,000 in grant money, allowing it to purchase a new fire engine and other equipment.

MOUNT PLEASANT — When your job is putting out fires and saving lives, having the right equipment is key.

It is sometimes difficult, though, for local volunteer fire departments to get the gear they need for the job. Luckily, a few grants recently were obtained by one local department, allowing it to purchase new equipment.

Tony Panepucci is chief of the Mount Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department, and he knows well the struggle to keep his crews supplied and equipped. Over the years, he said, he has applied for several grants to help purchase various pieces of equipment. Panepucci said he applied for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant many years in a row, to no avail. But to his delight, the department was recently awarded two grants totaling $579,000 to go toward new gear.

“I felt ecstatic. We’ve been applying for the FEMA grants for almost 20 years now,” Panepucci said. “At first I didn’t believe it was true.”

The chief said the money from the FEMA grants is being used to purchase a new fire engine for the department, allowing members to respond more quickly and efficiently to fires in their jurisdiction. The engine also carries a new generator to provide mobile power at the scene of a fire or other call; Panepucci said that addition is courtesy of a donation from the Martins Ferry Elks Club.

Other new equipment includes a radio for all 23 firefighters on the department, which will assist them in responding to calls more quickly. Panepucci also said he recently purchased new air packs for every firefighter in the department with custom-fitted face masks to ensure a good seal.

The packs are state-of-the-art and include infrared cameras to help with visibility at fire and incident scenes.

With all the new equipment, Panepucci is satisfied his department can now stand with the best of them and serve the community. But he said he’s always on the lookout for even more equipment to make Mount Pleasant firefighters even more capable in their service. He said the next thing on his list is applying for a grant to go toward purchasing new fire hoses for the truck, as the old ones tend to wear out quickly. He thanked the community and organizations that made this possible, as he is always thinking of how to better serve his hometown and the people who live there.

“It’s just been awesome,” he said. “It’s a lot of fine things in works for the town.”