Duke Energy Grants Money to WNC Fire Departments

Last fall, fire departments from Macon County as well as surrounding counties teamed with firefighters from around the country to fight the wildfires that consumed forest lands in western North Carolina. At this week’s monthly meeting of the Macon County Board of Commissioners, several local fire departments were recognized for their efforts in last fall’s wildfires and were awarded the 2017 Wildland Fire Grants from the Duke Energy Grant Program. Through the grant program, Duke Energy offered grant assistance to local fire departments for services they provided during the recent wildland fire season covering costs that are not reimbursable with local, state and federal funds.

Andy Webster, president of the Western North Carolina Association of Fire Fighters (WNCAFF) and chief of Cool Springs Volunteer Fire Department in Statesville, N.C. and Lisa Leatherman with Duke Energy, presented checks to Macon and Swain fire departments who had been selected through an application process to receive the grant funding. Fire departments in western North Carolina were invited to apply for grant reimbursements from the $75,000 grant established by Duke Energy.

Seven fire departments in Macon County received checks from the Duke Energy grant totaling $18,521. West Swain Fire Department in Swain County was also presented with a check for $14,447. Macon County fire departments who received money from the grant included Burningtown/Iotla $2,100; Clarks Chapel $3,322; Cowee $3,250; Cullasaja $2,485; Nantahala $4,205; Otto $1,974; and West Macon $1,185.

The purpose of the grant is to assist fire departments and/or fire department auxiliaries with their efforts during the wildfires that occurred in the western part of the state during 2016. This grant will help assist fire departments that responded to the wildfires. A review committee, consisting of members of the Western North Carolina Association of Firefighters Board, North Carolina Emergency Management and Duke Energy representatives, was created to determine the allocation of funds to fire departments in the region. The committee selected fire departments who had applied for the grant funding through an application process managed by the WNCAFF. The grant was for items that were not eligible for local, state, or federal reimbursement. 

 “North Carolina last year faced two historic events – the Hurricane Matthew which impacted eastern North Carolina and the wildfires that we had that impacted the foothills and the mountains of North Carolina,” said Leatherman. “Duke Energy saw a need to find a way to support the local fire departments and the firefighters who volunteered their time to work tirelessly a long side of resources that came across from our nation to help fight the fires here in western North Carolina. I am glad to have this money come back into the communities.”

“It was phenomenal the work that occurred in Swain and Macon County and all the communities that Duke Energy serves to protect personal property,” added Leatherman. “This grant covers materials that are not reimbursable with local, state and federal funds. We were glad to have the partnership with WNC Association of Firefighters who oversaw the selection process and made the decision who were awarded the grants.”