LOXLEY, Alabama — Thanks to a grant from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, the Loxley Volunteer Fire Department will soon have brand new lifesaving equipment for the department.
The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation awards grants quarterly, said Loxley Deputy Fire Chief Ed Vaughn. This is the third time Loxley has applied for the grant over the last year-and-a-half.
“We found out we received the grant in July,” Vaughn said, “then it took about a month to submit all the paperwork to Firehouse and to make sure we had everything in line as far as the city goes.”
The grant was used to purchase extrication equipment, or a state-of-the-art Hurst Jaws of Life for the department, Vaughn said. The equipment was ordered around the first of August and should take about 60 days to complete.
“This will be a customized piece of equipment,” Vaughn said, “which will include the Firehouse Subs logo.”
Vaughn said the department currently has two sets of Jaws of Life equipment, one that was purchased in the 1970s and the other that was purchased in the 1990s.
“Cars today are made of lighter, stronger material,” he said, “and the equipment we are using today oftentimes no longer works on newer vehicles.”
The other big change, Vaughn said, is that the new Jaws of Life the department is getting is electric while the other two sets of equipment are hydraulic.
What a tour bus carrying high students from the Houston area crashed on Interstate 10 between Loxley and Wilcox in March of 2018, it was a real eye-opener for the department, Vaughn said.
“The bus was sitting at the bottom of a ravine and the none of the hoses we had for the hydraulic system were long enough to reach it from the highway,” Vaughn said. “We ended up carrying the whole mechanism down into the ravine in order to do what we had to do.”
Just the cutting mechanism on the older machines weighs about 60 pounds, Vaughn said. “It takes to pretty big guys just to handle it.”
“The new mechanism is not only light-weight, but it is also entirely self-contained,” he said. “That will make a huge difference for us.”
In total, Vaughn said, the new system costs $29,255, all paid for by the grant. It will replace the older system purchased in the 1970s, which cost about $6,000 at the time.
Vaughn said the department will also be looking for fundraising opportunities to eventually replace the other system.