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Firefighters seek new, safer turn-out gear

The session was barely into the first hour Monday night when Lanesville firefighter Bill Lyskowinski was dragged from the room. And he wasn’t even in trouble.
Lyskowinski was the designated model of the latest in firefighting ‘turn-out gear,’ which includes a strap that another firefighter can grab hold of to drag an unconscious, fallen firefighter from a burning room. Although Rick Kerr, the designated draggee, no doubt weighs more, it only takes a 150-pound person to drag a 250-pound firefighter to safety.
The ‘drop and drag’ feature is just one of several new safety measures included with the new turn-out gear, which the Harrison County Fire Chief’s Association hopes the council will agree to buy for the volunteers.
‘The safety of all firefighters in Harrison County is our Number One priority,’ Kerr, Lanesville fire chief and president of the association, told the Harrison County Council.
Council chair Gary Davis commended the firefighters for coming up with an agreeable, proper use of some $500,000 in riverboat revenue county officials had earmarked this year for firefighters in a long-range spending plan.
The new, roomy uniforms, which include boots, helmets, goggles, gloves and hoods, normally cost $1,987, or $520,594 for the 262 suits needed to outfit all volunteers in the nine fire departments. But through negotiations, the price dropped to $1,839 each, or $481,818 for the suits.
‘For everybody to agree to get the turn-out gear, I think speaks volumes,’ Kerr said. ‘Hands down, that’s what we decided to go with.’
Current gear used by the firefighters will be kept for back up, when new suits are drying (which takes a couple of days), or out for cleaning or repairs, Kerr said.
Davis told the firefighters, including Dennis Lemmel of the Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Dept. who modeled old turn-out gear for comparison purposes, that the seven-member council will vote on the request at the Nov. 13 business meeting.
In other matters Monday night, the council:
‘ Heard a request from the Harrison County Alternative Education Center for $198,728 in operating funds for the next year.
As a successful joint effort between the schools in Harrison County, the juvenile court and child welfare workers, and county officials, the alternative school’s officials have been chosen to present a program at the National Juvenile Justice Dept. get-together in San Diego. Officials have been asked to explain how the various departments have been able to work together to come up with a program that helps students with behavioral problems remain in school. ‘It’s a pretty big feather in our hat,’ said Doug Dodge, vice principal at North Harrison High School and president of the alternative school’s board of directors.
‘Is there a monetary prize for that?’ asked Councilman Chris Timberlake, drawing laughter.
The council expects to act on the request at its Nov. 13 business meeting.
‘ Heard a request from HEART Humane Society to consider turning over to HEART those funds that have accumulated over the years for a humane society. An ordinance passed by the council in 1988 designated 50 cents from each dog tax to be used to establish funding for a humane society.
Until HEART, there has been no humane society in Harrison County, so funding now accumulated to $11,347. The council has appropriated $3,500 from that amount for spaying and neutering dogs and cats and has discussed using the balance to pay for livestock damages caused by dogs.
Gloria Scott, president of HEART, asked the council Monday night to consider giving that money to HEART, which plans to build and operate an adoption center as soon as suitable, affordable land can be found.
‘We’re just asking for the money in the fund to be held in reserve until we’re ready to build the adoption center,’ Scott said.
Davis said since the state legislature this year did away with the township trustee’s responsibility in collecting dog taxes, there’s no fund from which animal claims can be paid except the general fund, which is taxpayer dollars. So the council will consider that. The ordinance established in 1988, can be amended, the council noted.
Davis authorized the auditor to stop the use of the fund for spaying and neutering, until the council reaches a decision.
Councilman Alvin Brown is the only current member of the council who was in office in 1988, and he is signed on the dotted line.
‘I have to support that,’ he said, with a chin-scratching look. ‘I’m not going to flip flop.’