Cops and Courts

Donation helps Blacksville VFD purchase heavy lifting equipment

Firefighters with the Blacksville Volunteer Fire Department are now able to handle the heavy lifting at accident scenes, thanks to a donation from Northeast Natural Energy.

Blacksville VFD Chief Kevin Wilson said because of the donation, his department was able to purchase equipment that will allow them to quickly and easily lift things weighing up to 94 tons using only the air in their air tanks.

According to Wilson, the equipment will be useful for car accidents, farm accidents involving heavy equipment, and at area oil and gas well pads.

“Basically, this will help us be able to lift stuff if someone was trapped underneath something,” Wilson said.

Andy Travis, environmental health and safety manager with Northeast Natural Energy, said the oil and gas company has most of its wells in the Blacksville vicinity and should an accident occur, a number of departments would likely respond — but Blacksville VFD is one of the closest to its operations.

“We just felt like it was important to support them in this way and we’re glad we could do it,” Travis said. “We’ve always tried to support the first responders.”

Wilson said this is not the first time the department has been able to obtain equipment using Northeast Natural Energy donations and the VFD’s members are extremely grateful.

“A couple years ago they donated some money to help us get new gear, so they are kind of keeping us up with what we need to have,” he said.

According to Wilson, the new lifting equipment would have set the department back around $10,000. When it arrived, the firefighters received training on how and where to set it up and how to use it.

While it is not something they will likely have to use every day, or even every month, Wilson said he has seen situations in the past where it would have been useful.

“I’ve known three or four [accidents] in the past five years that we could have probably used [the equipment] on, but we never had [it]. Now we do,” he said. “It’s just more safety for the community and the people out here.”