Fire Division receives $40,000 grant from BWC

By William Duffield bduffield@civitasmedia.com

January 15, 2014

XENIA — The Xenia Fire Department is fond of the 3-to-1 ratio after Wednesday’s check presentation from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Representatives of the BWC, including administrator and CEO Steve Buehrer were on hand at Fire Station 1 to announce the department’s receiving of a $40,000 check, a grant from the bureau as part of BWC’s Safety Intervention Grant Program. The grant calls for one part local investment and three parts from BWC.

“We will use the money to purchase a power lift system for each of the (four) medic units,” Fire Captain Jason Kinley said prior to the presentation Wednesday. “This grant will allow us to purchase this technology that we previously could not budget. Our medics (as a whole) go out on about 4,000 calls a year. That’s a lot of work and a lot of lifting. It can cause a lot of back injuries.

“This is a contribution, over the long term, to the costs of back injuries in recovery, lost man hours. These beds will be a great investment.”

The department is purchasing four Power-LOAD cot fastener systems, battery operated hydraulic systems that mechanically lifts and lowers the cot into and out of the ambulance.

“We’re ordering the equipment and it should be delivered in four to six weeks,” Kinley added. “Then the work on the units, so within the next two months they should be ready to go.”

The captain said the unit can lift at least 750 pounds.

“That takes a great strain off our medics.”

Buehrer said that the best way to rehab from an injury is to avoid it altogether. The cots is one way of doing that.

“One of the most prevalent causes of injuries in the state of Ohio is people lifting people,” Buehrer said.

Buehrer added that Safety Intervention Grant Program assists Ohio employers in reducing illnesses and injuries and to create a partnership with them to establish best practices for accident and injury prevention. Ohio private and public employers are eligible for safety intervention grants, which include a 3-to-1 matching amount up to a maximum of $40,000. Quarterly data reports and follow-up case studies help BWC determine the effectiveness of employers’ safety interventions and establish best practices.

The administrator added that the bureau was tasked by Gov. John Kasich to triple its budget for the program, meaning total amount of available money was recently raised to $15 million as part of the bureau’s Billion Back plan. The plan also included $1 billion in rebates and steps to modernize BWC’s billing processes.

He added that an investment in safety makes a difference in reducing workplace injuries, benefitting employees, and positively impacting an employer’s bottom line — in this case, the City of Xenia.

“In purchasing the new equipment, the city has done a great job identifying an area where injuries are likely to happen, and taking action to protect firefighters and medics so they can do their jobs more safety,” Buehrer said. “I encourage other local businesses to take advantage of BWC’s expanded grants program and other safety resources to help prevent injuries and reduce their costs.”

Kinley said the lift systems have been on the department’s “wish list” for a while.

“For years, we’ve been trying to find a way to prevent back injuries,” he said. “We’d go and ask about something like this, but there was never enough in the budget. Then this opportunity came along and we had some money left from other grants to cover our share. It was a win-win for the city, the fire department and even for BWC.

“I can’t see why every department doesn’t take advantage of this grant opportunity,” he said.

Xenia City Manager Jim Percival said the grant from the bureau is a great assistance.

“The City of Xenia is very happy to be able to take advantage of the BWC’s grant program to provide new cots for the Xenia Fire Division,” Percival said. “These new units will allow our firefighter/paramedics to perform their functions more safely and reduce the risk of injury to our employees, and in turn make our operations more efficient and effective for the citizens of Xenia.”