CARTHAGE, Texas (Sept. 24, 2015) - The North Texas chapter of the Gas Processors Association (North Texas GPA) today presented the Carthage Fire Department with a $23,000 donation earmarked for the purchase of confined space rescue equipment. The chapter, along with member companies Azure Midstream, DCP Midstream and MarkWest Energy Partners, collectively contributed to the total donation amount, which will allow the department to purchase on-scene safety and rescue equipment critical to gas plant incident response.
"Carthage firefighters are the first responders for gas plants in the area, so to North Texas GPA and our members, it's just as much our responsibility to make sure they have the necessary equipment to protect themselves, our community and our employees in the rare case of an incident," said Jason Randall, business development manager for Engineering, Procurement, & Construction and treasurer of North Texas GPA. "We greatly appreciate their service and the support they provide to us, and this is one way that we can support them in return."
At natural gas processing plants, employees routinely inspect and repair the plants' storage vessels, which are considered "confined spaces" due to limited means for entry or exit and the potential for oxygen deficiency in certain situations.
"In the event where someone goes into the vessel and can't get out, we have to go in and get them, and having the right equipment on hand is critical in a rescue situation," said Carthage Fire Marshal Duane Baushke.
By the nature of confined space rescues, a variety of specialty rescue gear is required. Baushke said the donated funds will be used to purchase confined space entry kits that assist in lowering and lifting personnel or equipment in and out of the space; coveralls and other protective gear for the firemen; and breathing equipment that delivers safe, breathable air when in oxygen deficient confined spaces.
"We are a combination fire department that has paid firemen but also relies heavily on volunteers," Baushke said. "It's a good pairing for the city and the fire department because it puts some room in our budget for necessary equipment that we would have to spend otherwise on salaries, but we still have to rely on donations for specialty equipment that we couldn't afford or would take significant time to acquire.
"We see gas prices going down and the economy affected, so this was an unexpected and much appreciated donation," Baushke said. "We will put it to good use."
Carthage, Texas, is a small city located on the state's east side near the Louisiana state line and west of Shreveport. Because of its location's importance to the natural gas industry, the community considers itself "the Gas Capital of the United States."
The Carthage Fire Department is largely volunteer-based, with a membership of 30 volunteers and seven paid firemen.
GPA has served the U.S. energy industry since 1921 as an incorporated non-profit trade association. The association's North Texas chapter is composed of members in Dallas/Ft. Worth, east Texas and north Louisiana and surrounding areas that are engaged in producing, gathering, transporting, and marketing natural gas and natural gas products. The chapter hosts a number of networking and educational events specific to its region each year and also provides more than $35,000 in scholarships each year to support the academic efforts of area students.