Falchonhead receives grant to buy new equipment
Falconhead Volunteer Fire Department received a $34,000 grant from the Southern Oklahoma Disaster Association to purchase new equipment.
Lieutenant Robert Viveros said one of the things the department was able to get was new air packs.
“With the air packs, it’s like when you’re going to go scuba diving,” Viveros said. “You have to have the vents, the tanks and the regulators. That’s a pack. So we were able to get four new packs and four new tanks.”
Viveros said they also received five new masks with a camera built into it. The camera detects heat and will make it easier for firefighters to tell where the hotspots are. The department also received a handheld device that they can take into the house or outside the house to find the hotspots.
Viveros said the masks and the handhelds will make it easier for firefighters to save victims.
“What this mask does is, one, it protects us,” Viveros said. “Two, it helps us get to victims that are in the house immediately. With smoke, it doesn’t take very long for them to die and suffocate from it. So now, we’re able to crawl on the ground, get to them, put them on our back and crawl them back out within minutes or seconds.”
Viveros said the new devices will also make it easier for homeowners to get back to their homes.
“Most houses when they catch on fire, they’ll get rebuilt,” Viveros said. “But we’ll be able to help that homeowner be back in their house probably in half the time because we only had to extinguish the fire in a bedroom versus going in there blind and having to extinguish the entire home.”
The new equipment will be a big help this summer. Viveros said he’s because of the heavy rain and new growth, he’s expecting to see a lot more grass fires.
“Within the next three weeks, we’ll see our grass fires just go up dramatically,” Viveros said. "It doesn’t take much. All you need is the oxygen and the fuel. The fuel is going to be that dead grass. Oxygen is everywhere, so it will just spark right up. Unfortunately, sometimes it kind of simmers underneath the big grass piles. Then an hour later, it starts to flame up and catches some wind.”
Right now, Falconhead is the only fire department with this new equipment, but the department wants to make sure it helps out other law enforcement agencies. Last week, Viveros said Falconhead invited all of the volunteer and non-volunteer fire departments to a meeting and trained them on how to use the new equipment.
“We’ve offered [the equipment] to the rest of Love County,” Viveros said. “So if there is an issue, they can call us, and we’ll run out there.”
Viveros has been with Falconhead for about four years. He previously worked as a law enforcement officer for seven years in California before leaving to work in the corporate industry for 25 years. Viveros said he joined Falconhead because he wanted to help out in the community.
“I just think about our community,” Viveros said. “To me, this was the one I could touch everyone in Love County and help out.”
Viveros said there are many ways to help out a volunteer fire department like Falconhead. People can support the department monetarily and with their time.
“The easiest thing is to make a small donation,” Viveros said. “It goes a long way whether it’s $100 or coming down and saying ‘hey, I’d like to help out for the day,’ or becoming a volunteer firefighter. We have different aspects of it. There’s lots of different jobs you can do to help support.”