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November 02, 2011   Email to Friend 

Walker County Farmers Federation Gives Back To Community
Melissa Martin

Boldo Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Chris Hopper, left, explains to Area 2 Organization Director Matthew Durdin and Walker County Farmers Federation Vice President Dorman Grace how the fire-fighting foam works to quickly expel flames. The Walker County Farmers Federation recently purchased two foam nozzle attachments, below, and 24 five-gallon buckets of high expansion foam for use by all fire departments in the county.
Residents of Walker County have one thing less to worry about thanks to new firefighting equipment purchased by the Walker County Farmers Federation.

With the $5,000 given by the county Federation, all fire departments in Walker County now have access to two ChemGuard Foam Maker aspirating nozzle attachments and 24 five-gallon buckets of high expansion foam. The foam allows firefighters to get flames under control quicker than with water alone.

Foam can be used to extinguish structure fires, electrical fires, flammable liquid fires and fires involving combustibles. It's also helpful in controlling wildfires, where water may not be available. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, foam can also be used to humanely euthanize poultry in emergency situations.

Walker County Farmers Federation Vice President Dorman Grace, a row crop and poultry farmer, suggested purchasing the foam equipment earlier this year when a snow and ice storm caused the roof on one of his poultry houses to collapse.

"After talking to the Department of Agriculture and Industries about the best way to euthanize chickens following the collapse, it turned out that the best way was with foam. Unfortunately, no one in our area had a foaming device," recalled Grace. "Whether I ever have another chicken house situation again or not, our first responders need this equipment. Since they're all volunteers, our Federation was able to procure funds for the equipment. Now, all 24 volunteer fire departments in Walker County - and even the larger cities like Jasper - can use the foamer when they need it." Biodegradable and low in toxicity, the foam is environmentally friendly.

Chris Hopper, captain of Boldo Volunteer Fire Department, recognizes both farm and non-farm benefits of utilizing foam for extinguishing fires and is grateful for the Federation's donation. While he's glad they haven't had to use the new tools in a real fire, he's confident in the foam's ability to smother flames and save lives.

"The Walker County Farmers Federation's purchase of the nozzles, inductors and 24 buckets of foam has taken a big step in helping out the various fire services in the county, including providing a new level of safety for our firefighters' well-being," said Hopper. "By using foam, our guys can stand farther away from the flames, which cuts down on their risk of getting hurt." As a specialty tool recognized by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), the property/casualty insurance industry's leading supplier of statistical, actuarial, underwriting and claims data, the ChemGuard Foam Maker also provides another benefit to the community.

"Currently, we're rated as a Class 5 department on the ISO system's 1-10 scale," said Hopper. "Class 1 is the best and Class 10 is the worst, and we've worked our way to Class 5. The more tools we acquire that separate us from other departments, and the better our ability to extinguish fires, the better our rating. As ratings improve, so do our residents' fire insurance premiums." Class ratings are measured by the fire department's capabilities, water supply and communications, Hopper said.



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