NEW HAVEN — Many things come in “sevens,” including seven days in a week, seven continents, the “Seven Seas,” seven colors of the rainbow, and seven notes on a musical scale.
Some even feel the number seven is lucky, and that definitely holds true for the New Haven and Community Volunteer Fire Department (NHFD).
The Bend Area department is the only entity to receive a Robert and Louise Claflin Foundation grant for all seven years the foundation has been in existence. Most recently, the department used the grant for a set of personal protective equipment and five flashlights.
According to Stephen Duncan, New Haven fire chief, and Greg Kaylor, public information officer, it is expensive to equip each firefighter with the necessary gear. By the time a member must have an approved helmet, protective hood, bunker pants, coat, boots and gloves, it can be over $2,500.
The NHFD has 40 members, and according to Duncan, the personal protective gear has a 10-year life span as mandated by the federal government. He added that means no matter how much, or how little, the equipment has been used, it still must be replaced after the 10 years.
“It would be a huge expense to replace it all at once, so we try to replace some each year,” Duncan said. “We are really grateful for the support of the Claflin Foundation.”
The chief said he didn’t realize the department was the only one to receive the grant each year since it started, adding it is “something to be proud of.”
“It’s wonderful that the Claflins are still giving back to the community,” Duncan said. “That’s the best part of it – from schools, to libraries, to fire departments.”
Kaylor said the NHFD has received over $18,000 to-date from the foundation. Even though most of the money has been used for protective gear, it has also gone for portable radios, microphones, flashlights, and other items.
According to Kaylor, by having the funds from the Claflin Foundation to regularly update the firefighter gear, it provides the department the ability to save money for larger items. The department recently purchased a new “Jaws of Life.”
Kaylor said the department has recently been hit with less operating money due to the closure of the nearby Philip Sporn Plant. Other monies come from the state, county commission, other grants that are not guaranteed, and a local annual fundraiser.
The New Haven department has a Class IV rating, which was achieved two years ago, Kaylor said. With the ratings going from 10 being the worst to one being the best, Kaylor added the local department is one of few in the entire state to achieve the Class IV rating.
He stated it takes about 100 hours of training before a firefighter is allowed to actively combat a blaze, although he can go to a fire in a support role.
“After Firefighter I and II training is over, they learn the stuff in the bay,” Kaylor stated. “A fireman has to learn every piece of equipment we have, and if they want to drive an emergency vehicle, it’s even more.”
Stephen Littlepage, foundation administrator, presented the latest Claflin grant to the department, along with committee member Wetzel “Doc” Fields. Littlepage said one reason the NHFD is “seven for seven” is because he feels the Claflins would have wanted a good, strong, up-to-date department protecting their community. The Claflins were residents of New Haven for many years.
“The community interest there is large,” Littlepage added. “That is a big determining factor in granting their requests. We want them to be equipped to meet any emergency.”
NHFD officers, in addition to Duncan and Kaylor, include Assistant Chief Manning Roe, Captain Steven Greene, Deputy Chief Matt Shell, and Attendance Officer George White.
The Mason Volunteer Fire Department also received a Claflin Foundation grant this year in the amount of $3,669, according to Fire Chief Robert Johnson. The money will go to purchase rescue tools that will be used during automobile accidents, a spare air bottle for self-contained breathing apparatus, and a set of turn-out gear.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.