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Local foundation presents life-saving tools to 162nd firefighters

Mike McKendrick, Greater Tucson Fire Foundation chair, presents fire ground survival cutters to Chief Master Sgt. Shane Clark, 162nd Fighter Wing fire chief, Jan. 7 at the base fire station. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Hollie Hansen)

Mike McKendrick, Greater Tucson Fire Foundation chair, presents fire ground survival cutters to Chief Master Sgt. Shane Clark, 162nd Fighter Wing fire chief, Jan. 7, while Lt. Col. Carol Kenny, 162nd Civil Engineer Squadron commander, looks on at the base fire station. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Hollie Hansen)

A member of the 162nd Fighter Wing fire station examines a new set of fire ground survival cutters donated by the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Hollie Hansen)

A member of the 162nd Fighter Wing fire station examines a new set of fire ground survival cutters donated by the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Hollie Hansen)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Greater Tucson Fire Foundation donated fire ground survival cutters to 162nd Fighter Wing firefighters here Jan. 7 as part of an initiative to provide Tucson area firefighters with tools that can be used in service to the public and for self rescue.

Members gathered early during their drill weekend at the fire station to welcome representatives from the foundation and the tool distributor, Grangier Company. Mike McKendrick, chair for the non-profit group and a 30-year veteran of the fire service, took a few moments to comment on the unique perils Guard firefighters face and to thank them for their service.

"It is an honor for us to be here today to present these tools. The perils that Guard firefighters face [during aircraft fires] are higher than what their local counterparts face in a typical structural fire. This tool is intended to cut through wires or cables that are three quarters of an inch thick. It is intended to give them a fighting chance to rescue themselves when needed," said McKendrick.

Chief Master Sgt. Shane Clark, 162nd fire chief, thanked the group for their support in recognizing wing firefighters as an asset in the community. The chief ceremoniously accepted the first set of cutters.

"Today is a great day. The foundation and its board members are giving us a tool we can use to be safe in a fire. I appreciate them recognizing us as part of the Tucson fire community. They know what our potential is as a local partner," said Clark.

Staff Sgt. Rodmar Manarang plans to keep his cutters in his tool set and use them for training.

"I think it's great they came out here today to donate these tools to us. There is a potential for us to get entangled in what we do and having cutters can be effective in cutting things like electrical wire in a home, cables in a building or on an aircraft. It's nice to include this in our tool sets," said Manarang.

The Greater Tucson Fire Foundation assists the Tucson fire community with funding, tools, technology, advanced training, equipment, survivor's help, public education campaigns and human services to support firefighters that serve and protect the citizens of the greater Tucson area. Corporate and public donations made funding the initiative possible.

"The foundation conducted an assessment of what we could do to help local firefighters obtain needed equipment. Through a partnership with tools distributor Grangier, and public and corporate donations, we were able to raise funds to purchase cutters for all firefighters in the greater Tucson area," said McKendrick.

Guard firefighters are among 1,400 firefighters in the region to receive the life saving hand tool. McKendrick emphasized the need and use of cutters to reduce fatalities.

"Twenty-three percent of on-duty firefighter deaths are due to entanglement. We are content to know that we helped provide 1,400 firefighters - including the Guard - with this tool," he said.