Grant helps Ohio FD purchase powered stair chairs

Painesville Fire Chief Tom Hummel said the powered chairs will reduce the risk of back and shoulder injuries


Painesville City Fire Department/Facebook

By Bryson Durst
The News-Herald

PAINESVILLE, Ohio — The Painesville City Fire Department recently received a grant for powered lift chairs, which Fire Chief Tom Hummel said can reduce the risk of firefighter injury.

City Council unanimously voted to accept the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Safety Intervention Grant earlier in December. A city manager report stated that the grant will cover $36,602.64, or 75 percent of the cost, while the city’s fire levy will cover the remaining $12,200.88.

“These will allow us to move patients both up and down stairways, porches, so on and so forth, without having to apply a lot of physical lifting force to move the patients,” Hummel said. “We see a lot of injuries to our firefighters — back, shoulder injuries especially — because of awkward positioning when we have to transition patients up and down the stairs.”

“These devices are about the same size as the stair chairs we use now, but they have a motorized function that lets them actually walk up and down the stairs with a tread, and will help relieve us from a lot of injury opportunity,” he added.

According to the BWC website, the safety intervention grant is offered on a three-year cycle as a three-to-one matching grant of up to $40,000.

“The SIG Program is available to any Ohio private or public employer covered by the State Insurance Fund to purchase equipment to substantially reduce or eliminate injuries and illnesses associated with a particular task or operation,” the website said.

“In return, employers will submit a one-year case study one year after the implementation date of the intervention,” it added, stating that the data would be used “to determine the effectiveness of the intervention and share successes with other employers.”

The city last received a grant through the program in the 2017-18 cycle.

According to BWC records, the grant totaled $40,000 and was used “to purchase two chest compression systems with desktop chargers, rechargeable batteries and one power load system.” These purchases were intended “to reduce the risk of injury to fingers, hands, wrist, arms, shoulder, neck, back and legs.”

“We are very fortunate to have those opportunities to apply for the grants, and we try to take advantage of them when we get them, to do what we can to help reduce our injuries to our personnel, because they obviously are our most important asset,” Hummel said.

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