By Olivia Drake, HVFC Information Officer.
(February 21, 2023)–Haddam Volunteer Fire Company, which provides fire coverage to more than 8,500 residents, is the recipient a $2,500 Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) grant, overseen by the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP).
This competitive award is available to towns with populations under 10,000 residents and offers financial assistance for the prevention, control, and suppression of fires, which threaten human life, livestock, crops, pastures, orchards, woodlands, and farmsteads.
“Haddam is a heavily forested town where brush fires, forest fires, and agricultural fires are common,” said Firefighter Rich Zanelli, who oversees Haddam Fire’s forestry operations. “We’re very fortunate to have received the grant as it helps pay for extra supplies that aren’t necessarily in our budget.”
Zanelli, a lifelong resident of Haddam and 47-year-member of the department, has personally fought dozens of brushfires during his tenure. He notes that Haddam is home to Cockaponset State Forest, Seven Falls State Park, Millers Pond State Park, Haddam Meadows State Park, Haddam Island State Park, Higganum Reservoir State Park, and grassy areas along Route 9—all of which have required fire company response for brushfires.
The VFA funds are a matching 50% reimbursable grant with a maximum cap of $2,500. Haddam received all $2,500 which went to the purchase of additional forestry hose, nozzles, and a new hose reel. In past years, VFA funds have allowed the fire company to purchase forestry chainsaws, hose fittings, brooms, brush fire rakes, chainsaw batteries and more. Funds have also paid for members to attend the Firefighter I course, which costs about $1,150 a person and is usually paid by taxpayers.
“The VFA grant has saved the town a tremendous amount of money,” Zanelli said. “We plan to continue applying for the grant annually and encourage our neighboring towns with populations under 10,000 to do the same.”
Photos by Olivia Drake, HVFC