Buchanan Masons give fire department funds to help with Jaws of Life purchase

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, March 27, 2019

BUCHANAN —  The Buchanan City Fire Department will be able to add another life-saving tool to their rescue mission arsenal, thanks to a donation from the Buchanan Masons and city approval.

Monday night during a city commission meeting, the Buchanan Masons provided the fire department with a $3,000 check for extraction equipment, also known as the Jaws of Life. The total cost of the tool is about $21,000. Commissioners voted unanimously to support the rest of the cost using money raised through a .5 millage for the fire department. 

Buchanan commissioners initially voted against approval of the equipment during a meeting earlier this month. City manager Bill Marx said the mason’s donation, combined with a better understanding of how the equipment will save lives helped to change their opinion Monday night.

Buchanan Fire Department Chief Robert “Mike” Adams said the equipment is necessary given the rapid increase of traffic accidents first responders have seen recently.

“Our call volume, as far as vehicle accidents, has more than doubled over the course of the last couple years,” Adams said. “We have had some pretty severe [crashes].”

Adams said the fire department does not have any vehicle extrication equipment. He said the equipment they will purchase is battery-powered and mobile. It will help them to free people who have been trapped in a vehicle during a wreck.

Dan Hinkle, of the Buchanan Masons, said the fire department approached them to seek help after the city had rejected approval for the equipment. He said the Masons offered $1,500 for the equipment, which was matched by the State Masonic Lodge for a total of $3,000.

Hinkle said a number of the Masons are former first responders and so they understood the necessity of the equipment.

Adams said he believed the initial rejection of the equipment by city commissioners amounted to a misunderstanding. After the meeting, he said the fire department continued the discussion with the commission.

Marx said city commissioners had initially expressed some trepidation about approving the extraction tool because surrounding fire departments already have the extraction equipment and could be called to the scene to assist.

After talking more with the fire department about the equipment’s necessity, Marx said city leaders determined that there is not always a guarantee that a neighboring fire department could be in a position to respond to an emergency.

“You can’t have a resident sitting there for 15 minutes waiting for a response for this equipment that could be on scene within minutes,” Marx said.

Marx commended the Masons for the gift to the fire department.

“We are happy with the fact that the Masons came up and opened the door again for this consideration,” Marx said. “Between the fact that we had neighbors that had the equipment and two, the cost $21,000, [ the purchase] was a little bit of a bite that some of the commission was concerned about. The Masons’ contribution took a little bit of that bite away.”

Adams expects the extraction equipment to arrive within the next four to six weeks. He said firefighters have already undergone some demonstrations and training so that they can be prepared to use it.

“This will make our job so much easier,” Adams said. “Our response times are already really good for being a paid-on-call department. This will give us one more ability to work quickly and not have to rely on calling somebody else to come to do that for us.”