(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – Over $450,000 of new extrication tools will soon be put into service on Alaska's highways. Purchased for the Girdwood Fire and Kenai Peninsula Borough fire departments, the funding for this equipment was made possible by private and corporate donations, and two grants - a $116,000 Highway Safety grant facilitated by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) Highway Safety Office and a $312,000 direct appropriation by the 32nd Alaska Legislature. Thank you to SPAN Alaska for the donation of shipping the Alaska Legislative grant-funded equipment from the Port of Tacoma to the Port of Anchorage.
Emergency responders often face many challenges posed by remote locations; lack of 911 mobile phone access, winter weather, and rugged terrain along the region’s highways. This extrication equipment will enable the fire departments to remove people more safely and quickly from vehicles in the event of a crash while reducing the risk of injury to both victims and responders.
The fire departments benefiting from these funds are Girdwood Fire Rescue, Bear Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Homer Volunteer Fire Department, Cooper Landing Emergency Services, Central Emergency Services, Kenai Fire Department, Seward Fire Department, Hope Sunrise Emergency Services, Nikiski Fire Department, Western Emergency Services, and Kachemak Emergency Services.
A press availability for the delivery of the new equipment from LN Curtis will be held Tuesday, April 25, 2023, at 1 p.m. at the Girdwood Fire Station. Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Peter Micciche and DOT&PF Central Region Director Wolfgang Junge, along with Girdwood Fire Chief Michelle Weston, Bear Creek Chief Richard Brackin, and Western Services Deputy Fire Chief Rob Mathis will be in attendance to celebrate the acquisition of this important equipment.
“The safety of Alaskans on our highways is a top priority for the department," said DOT&PF Commissioner Ryan Anderson. "We are pleased to partner with the Girdwood Fire Department and the Kenai Peninsula Borough to provide this important equipment to the first responders who serve our communities.”
“This equipment is going to save the lives of our friends, family, and community members. This was the first upgrade to our equipment in 20 years. Having equipment that is made for current vehicle designs and materials and that can stabilize vehicles for crews to work safely is huge. We have immense gratitude for the public and private donations we received and the support from community member Shannon Pursley who saw our original social media post in January 2022 and organized donations from fellow Hilcorp employees, Ice Services, Bond Commercial Properties, Mayor Micciche, and Alaska Legislative staff member Konrad Jackson,” said Girdwood Fire and Rescue Chief Michelle Weston.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Peter Micciche said, “The need for extrication equipment replacement on the highway corridor from Girdwood throughout the Kenai Peninsula was made clear to me by Girdwood’s Chief Weston and Kenai Peninsula-wide Fire Chiefs while I served as Senate President during the 32nd Legislature. Together we convinced the remainder of the Legislature and Governor Dunleavy that the safety of the public utilizing Southcentral highways was at risk without modern extrication equipment. I am sincerely grateful for the support of fellow Legislators in recognizing the imperative nature of the appropriation, and excited at the arrival of this important lifesaving equipment.”
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 237 airports, 9 ferries serving 35 communities along 3,500 marine miles, over 5,600 miles of highway and 839 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to “Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.”
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