PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The Baxendale Fire Department is requesting funds to purchase rescue and safety equipment to enhance our rescue capabilities and provide for additional safety for our responders and the public we serve. Our District is rural in nature with long response times so that it is imperative to have all the necessary tools and equipment necessary for involved and complicated rescue operations available to the firefighters when they arrive on scene. U.S. Highway 12 traverses the length of our district (approx. 15 miles) and can be treacherous to travel due to inclement weather and steep mountain pass conditions. We respond regularly to automobile accidents on this highway. Many tractor-trailers travel the highway carrying hazardous cargo. The Yellowstone Pipeline, which carries petroleum products, also traverses the district from east to west. Our county also overlays a very active seismic zone and the probability of a serious earthquake is great. Our department will be the first to respond to all calls for rescue in our district and will certainly respond to calls for help from our neighboring departments.



Request # 1.  K12 Rescue Saw. Used for cutting steel, concrete and other masonry products, this tool is indispensable for rescue operations in collapsed or burning buildings and can be utilized in automobile of farm machinery extrication. Costs for the saw and associated blades, safety equipment (goggles, hearing protectors), spare belts, gas can, and spare air filter are $1,770.00.


Request # 2. Air Bag Kit.  Air bags are basically rubber bladders that are inserted under an object (motor vehicle), filled with air from a SCBA bottle in order to raise the object to extricate a trapped or pinned victim. The airbag kit that we have chosen is called a Paratech 50 ton air bag kit with three sizes of airbags. The cost of the kit and the associated control package, 6000-PSI pressure regulator and air hoses is $3,000.00.


Request # 3. Thermal Imager. A great tool to seriously enhance firefighter safety and greatly assist in locating and rescuing victims in structure fires. The imager is also a great tool to locate accident victims thrown clear of an automobile. We have chosen the Bullard T3 Max Thermal Imager. The total cost of the imager, the truck mounted charger, mobile link receiver and remote transmitter is $15,000.


Request # 4. Jaws of Life. Baxendale currently uses a loaner set of jaws from the City of Helena fire Department. The jaws are old (20-30 years old), slow and not very reliable. We hope to replace them with a new Hurst setup to include a spreader, cutter, telescopic ram, hydraulic unit with a Honda 5.5 h.p. motor, hoses and fluid for $23,000.00.


Request # 5. Defibrillator. Baxendale Fire has two defibrillators but they have been rendered obsolete by new EMS protocols and will no longer be usable. A new Philips Heart Start FRX programmable defibrillator costs $1700 and should be adaptable to future changes for years to come.



FINANCIAL NEED: The Baxendale Fire Department has a current annual budget of approximately $65,000. This must cover worker’s compensation, insurance for the building and associated equipment, insurance for the apparatus, maintenance costs for the building and equipment, fuel, supplies, outstanding loans, and training. At most, there is $12,000 available each year to allocate for new and/or replacement equipment. We do not have the ability to purchase these items solely through local sources. Although our district covers an area of 91 square miles, it has only 335 households with approximately 1500 residents. A number of these residents actually live out of state for most of the year and don’t participate regularly in fire department fundraising activities. Despite our numbers, we have raised the necessary 5% match. In fact, we would be willing and able to fund up to 12% matching funds for this grant.



COST/BENEFIT: The benefits derived from the purchase of this equipment are extensive and varies as to the different usage of each piece of equipment. Generally, each item will enhance safety and firefighter efficiency by a large factor. In addition, the equipment will benefit the larger Helena area and our state-wide partners in mutual aid responses. Baxendale Fire is fortunate in that we operate within a progressive county that truly work very closely together and truly believe in interoperability. We operate closely with the Lewis & Clark Sheriff’s office, Search and Rescue, Fort Harrison Fire, Helena City Fire, Lewis & Clark Public Works, Lewis & Clark Health Dept., Montana Highway Patrol, U.S.F.S, Dept. Of State Lands, and thirteen other Rural Fire Departments.


Our fire department shares responsibility, by virtue of mutual aid agreements, for protection of the city of Helena including the Capitol Complex (several dozen state office buildings, densely populated, in area of a few square blocks), for the suburban area surrounding the city, and for two dams on the Missouri River system: Canyon Ferry Dam and Hauser Dam. Area fire departments, including ours, are assisting in the plans to provide adequate protection to these important sites, where hazardous materials, earthquakes, and terrorist threats could present significant danger and corresponding loss of life and property.


Baxendale Fire is part of our counties mutual aid response to other counties in Montana. Our goal is to respond within an hour of a call for help from anywhere in Montana. Our response depends upon the disaster but we do have a heavy rescue task force set up to respond to building collapse or other rescue situations. This equipment would enhance our response capability and make us more effective in helping other Montana communities.


Our Fire Department serves as first alarm to all of Fort Harrison, including the VA Hospital and the National Guard unit, situated west of Helena. The Fort operates a gunnery range, heavy armored tank track, and extensive helicopter operations on its grounds. The potential for heavy rescue operations is extensive. This equipment could easily benefit those that serve at Fort Harrison.


The Baxendale Fire Department provides first response coverage to 15 miles of U.S. Highway 12 West. This route, part of the National Highway System, traverses the steep 6% grade over the Continental Divide at MacDonald Pass, and has heavy tourist traffic and difficult winter road conditions. It is often the site of car, truck and motor home accidents and vehicle fires. Often the vehicle fires are caused by overheating going up the pass, and occur near the top. In addition, truck brake fires and vehicle rollovers and crashes can and do occur on the steep descent. This equipment, in particular the Jaws of Life, is essential for our firefighters to provide the rescue service demanded by the public.


The particular health and safety benefit of each piece of equipment will be described below:


1.)    JAWS OF LIFE: Baxendale currently uses an old (20-30 years old) set of jaws on loan from the City of Helena Fire Department. The jaws uses old technology such as a two stroke motor and are extremely heavy and awkward to use. These antique jaws are also not very reliable as we have trouble keeping the motor running. The new generations of Jaws are lighter weight, reliable, stronger and much easier to use. The firefighters benefit with ease of use, more efficiency, and less likelihood of back or shoulder injuries. Our customers are benefited by speedier extrications.

2.)    THERMAL IMAGER: The safety and health benefits of thermal imagers have proven to be extensive and profound. No single tool in use by the fire service today has the potential to save lives and protect our firefighters, as does the imager. No one who has been in a smoke filled room with zero visibility can doubt the usefulness of the thermal imager. It allows firefighters to quickly locate victims. They are also very useful in locating the seat of the fire and work well in finding hot spots during overhaul. They have also been utilized to find automobile victims thrown from vehicles during hours of darkness with great success. This tool makes a very hostile environment safer for the firefighters by providing some ability to see where they are going and what hazards lie ahead.

3.)    K12 RESCUE SAW: Baxendale Fire currently uses a chainsaw equipped with a carbide tipped chain for ventilation and other rescue purposes. If we need to cut concrete, steel, or other masonry products, we must call for mutual aid. This saw could speed delivery of services to our customers and has the potential to save lives. It could prove to be indispensable for rescue of our own firefighters should they become entrapped.

4.)    AIR BAGS: Air bags can be used to lift heavy objects off trapped or pinned victims. They can also be used to stabilize wrecked vehicles thus making the scene safer for responding firefighters. Baxendale Fire currently has no heavy lift capability.

5.)    DEFIBRILATOR: Our Fire Department currently owns two non-programmable defibrillators. This summer the EMS protocol changes for all defibrillators and both of our units become obsolete and unusable. We must replace both units. The unit we are asking for help to replace is kept on our first out engine and is dedicated for use on our firefighters should they go down with a heart attack. Our first responders are our most valuable resource and the possibility of heart problems among our aging firefighters is high. 


Without the funding that this grant provides, Baxendale fire would not be able to purchase any of these items for many years and then it will be one small piece at a time. All of these items are in our fifteen-year equipment-purchasing plan. As is the case of most fire departments, our equipment and apparatus are aging and replacement costs keep soaring so it is nearly impossible to add new technology and equipment without the help of grants.


STATEMENT OF EFFECT: The award of this grant would affect our daily operations immensely by providing the means to more effective, efficient and safer rescue operations and capability. By providing our firefighters with dependable state of the art rescue equipment we will be more efficient, less likely to injure ourselves and provide our public with fast professional services.


This will apply to our fire district, to the greater community of the city of Helena, to all of Lewis & Clark County (which has an area of over 3500 square miles) and to the State of Montana through our mutual aid agreements. The addition of this equipment will enhance our ability to affect rescue of those in need and provide for a much safer environment for those attempting the rescue.