Ohio Boosts Grants for Firefighters' Health Protection

"When we call firefighters for help, they're at our door as fast as humanly possible," said Ohio BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. "It's only right that we do the same when they need equipment critical to their health and safety. We want every qualifying fire department that applies for these grants to get their funds as soon as possible."

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation recently announced that, because of heavy demand from departments, it is more than doubling its funding for a new grant program intended to protect firefighters from carcinogens and other toxins that cause long-term health problems. BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison said although the agency originally planned to award $2 million this year for its Firefighter Exposure to Environmental Elements Grant Program, as of Feb. 28, BWC had received 444 grant applications seeking nearly $4.7 million in funding.

"When we call firefighters for help, they're at our door as fast as humanly possible," said Morrison. "It's only right that we do the same when they need equipment critical to their health and safety. We want every qualifying fire department that applies for these grants to get their funds as soon as possible."

The agency said as of March 6, it had awarded 199 grants totaling $2 million with four months remaining in the fiscal year, and the remaining 245 grant applications are pending.

Morrison visited a fire department where the chief used a $10,075 grant to purchase an industrial washing machine to replace a 1995 model that no longer met the needs of his growing department or updated requirements of the National Fire Protection Association. The new machine allows all gear to be washed prior to the next shift.

BWC's grant program will continue for a second year beginning July 1 with a funding level of $2 million.

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