Fire companies in need of bottled water donations | TribLIVE.com
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Mary Ann Thomas

While firefighters use untold gallons of water to fight blazes to save lives, they don’t want to come up short taking care of their own water needs.

Keeping first responders hydrated for hours in the heat can become a challenge that impacts their performance and health.

Volunteer firefighters, strapped by tight budgets, are asking the public to donate cases of bottled water during the summer. Some fire companies are posting their pleas on Facebook, and the idea is catching on like wildfire:

“With protective bunker gear on in the summer, our first responders and volunteers can go through several bottles in an hour,” North Apollo Volunteer Fire department wrote in a June 28 post.

Kiski Township firefighters followed suit with the same post for their fire company.

Just a day before North Apollo posted, storms tore through the region and about a dozen North Apollo firefighters easily went through a case of water while responding to calls for fallen trees and flooded basements.

Several days later, about eight cases of water showed up at the North Apollo’s fire department’s garage along 16th Street. People didn’t even put their names on the cases but just dropped them off, according to Chris Kerr, North Apollo’s fire chief.

“I hope everybody does it for their fire department,” Kerr said. “It’s an inexpensive way to show support for your fire department.”

Kerr got the idea to post the urgent need for bottled water from a Facebook post from the Greensburg Fire Department on June 19.

Greensburg is off to a slow start this year, receiving only two to three cases of water, according to Rick Steele, president of the Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department, which has six stations in the city.

“One of the reasons is that we haven’t had a lot of hot weather. It’s been rainy,” Steele said.

Last year, the department received 15 to 19 cases of bottled water.

“It’s a small token, and it’s not a costly expenditure,” he said.

But every bit helps. The convenience is important as well: First responders don’t have time to stop by the store to pick up water before they arrive at an emergency scene.

For Greensburg, the public can drop off a case of water at any of the fire stations or city hall.

Volunteer fire departments throughout Westmoreland County and Southwestern Pennsylvania need bottled water in the summer to keep firefighters hydrated, Steele added.

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