The Portales Fire Department is in operation mainly to stop fires that endanger the lives and property of Portales residents.
The department also attempts to educate people in an effort to stop potential fires, and has received more than $20,000 to support their efforts.
The Portales Fire Department was one of two New Mexico fire departments to receive funding through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program.
Portales will receive $20,264 for a variety of items that Fire Chief Jesse Mowrer said will combine to help educate citizens of fire dangers.
“It gives us the opportunity to spend more of our resources teaching them instead of having to develop the curriculum,” Mowrer said. “It’s really one of those grants where small elements go together.”
Part of the grant will be used on a computer program that will assist in doing home inspections. Mowrer said that many homes have small dangers that could lead to fires.
“It could be anything ,from electrical or mechanical problems to housekeeping problems to the lack of fire extinguishers and smoke alarms,” Mowrer said. “If we had the fire (for one of those reasons), that means we failed (in our education).
The grant will also help the department offer a multitude of videos and publications available for the purpose of fire safety education, Mowrer said.
Mowrer added that fire safety is a two-pronged approach — half dedicated to how to survive a fire, half dedicated to fire prevention.
The funding was announed by U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman.
“The proper education and training can go a long way in helping prevent fires,” Bingaman said in a release. “I am pleased that these funds are being made available to provide New Mexico fire departments with access to preventative training.”
The Doña Ana County Fire Marshal’s Office received $35,574 in aid through the Assistance to Firefighters program.
Other grants the fire department has received over the years, Mowrer said, helped the department purchase a regional air supply station to fill air packs for firefighters working inside smoke-filled areas. Mowrer said this is the first time the department has received money through the Assistance to Firefighters program.