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Cooper Landing Emergency Services fundraises for updated firefighter gear

Riley Board
/
KDLL

The donation-funded and volunteer-staffed Cooper Landing Emergency Services department is raising funds to outfit a new group of volunteers with up-to-date fire-resistant equipment.

A record-breaking number of volunteers will soon go through basic firefighter training at CLES. But before they can start fighting fires, the department needs new gear to outfit its growing staff.

Fire Chief Dan Osborn said the equipment runs about $10,000 to $15,000 per person. And it has to be updated every ten years to keep up with National Fire Protection Association requirements.

“Between the Air-Paks, and the fire-resistant pants, boots, helmets, gloves. It’s just a huge financial commitment since we just don’t have the…with the nonprofit organization, most of our funding comes from the public,” Osborn said.

Despite the steep costs the department is facing, the increased trainees are a good sign. CLES has struggled with staffing in the past, often due to a lack of affordable housing for young families in the Cooper Landing area.

As the busy summer season approaches, when the department deals with increased traffic and traffic accidents on the Sterling Highway, Osborn said the new batch of volunteers is a gift.

“If we were to need to go into a structure fire, we need to have a certain number of qualified fire fighters that can actually safely don and doff the gear and go into a dangerous environment to help,” he said. “We’ve really struggled over the years with having enough people to where we could make a successful interior attack. It’s just something we’ll be able to provide, hopefully.”

According to a Facebook post on Monday, CLES was just a few hundred short of its fundraising goals. The department is also applying for grants to raise what they need.

You can learn more about the department and the fundraiser at cooperlandinges.org

Riley Board is a Report For America participant and senior reporter at KDLL covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula.
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