LAUREL HILL — The city's volunteer fire department is getting updated, life-saving equipment.
The City Council unanimously approved to purchase a set of five-year-old hydraulic rescue tools from TNT Rescue equipment.
The equipment — a cutter, spreader, two Ram lifting devices and hoses — can help free someone trapped in a heavily damaged vehicle or assist firefighters in entering a burning building, among other uses, Laurel Hill Fire Chief Kevin Kendrick said.
“It will definitely help out up here,” he said. “We may not use (the equipment) for a year, but one day, it could be used for something (between) life or death … every minute counts.”
The department’s current equipment doesn't suffice during emergency calls, so volunteeers had called neighboring fire departments, as necessary, to use its tools, Kendrick said.
Bud McMahon, a TNT representative, offered a discounted price on the equipment and allowed the city the option to pay half the amount this year and the remaining cost the next fiscal year.
The department has enough funds to cover the purchase in both budgets, Mayor Robby Adams said. With Thursday's decision, the city has paid half of the equipment's cost. The city will pay the second half next fiscal year.
Most of the equipment comes with a lifetime warranty from TNT Rescue.
Council member Johnny James asked Capt. Larry Ward of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, who was present at Thursday's council meeting, to share his thoughts on how essential this equipment is to first responders.
“These guys can’t do what they do without it,” Ward said. “It’s almost as essential as the gear they wear.”