Fire Departments Awarded First OH Environmental Exposure Grants

Thirty-eight departments are the first in the state to receive funding under BWC's Firefighter Exposure to Environmental Elements Grant Program, which provides $2 million a year to help departments purchase safety gear and equipment designed to protect firefighters from carcinogens and other harmful elements encountered during fires.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation this month announced it is awarding $406,000 in grants to 38 Ohio fire departments -- the first to be given under a new program to reduce firefighters' exposure to toxic environmental elements. The grant program was announced in April as a component of BWC's Third Billion Back rebate plan and provides a 5-to-1 match up to $15,000 for public and private employers with annual payroll of at least $500,000. No match is required for employers with less than $500,000 in payroll.

These departments are the first in the state to receive funding under BWC's Firefighter Exposure to Environmental Elements Grant Program, which provides $2 million a year to help departments purchase safety gear and equipment designed to protect firefighters from carcinogens and other harmful elements encountered during fires. "The dangers of fighting a fire do not stop when the flames are extinguished," said BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. "The men and women who risk their lives to save ours deserve access to the best equipment and tools that can minimize long-term threats to their health and well-being."

The program helps the departments buy these protective items:

  • Diesel exhaust systems
  • Extractors/washing machines for turnout gear
  • Hoods with barrier protection
  • Washable gloves

To be eligible, departments must be a state-fund private or public employer taxing district firefighter employer; have active Ohio workers' compensation coverage and maintain continuous active coverage while participating in the program; not have more than 40 days of cumulative lapses in workers' compensation coverage within the prior 12 months; be current with respect to all payments due BWC as defined in rule 4123-17-14; have been in existence for at least two years; have reported payroll for at least one full policy year; and timely report actual payroll for the preceding policy year and pay any premium due upon reconciliation of estimated premium and actual premium.

Some of the largest grants are going to the Jeromesville Fire District (Ashland County), $12,950 to purchase one extractor/washer, 30 barrier hoods, and 30 sets of washable gloves; Williamsburg Township (Clermont County), $12,389 to purchase one extractor/washer; the city of Coshocton, $12,508.33 to purchase one extractor/washer; the city of Lancaster Division of Fire (Fairfield County), $12,420 to purchase 69 barrier hoods and 69 sets of washable gloves; and Violet Township (Fairfield County), $14,996.67 to purchase an extractor/washer, 48 sets of washable gloves, and 56 barrier hoods.

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