MERRILL - Every firefighter in Merrill needs two sets of protective gear. One is for day-to-day fire calls and another serves as a backup. But at more than $2,000 each, that turnout gear isn't cheap.
Tuesday, a Merrill-based business offered to help cover part of that cost. Members of the Weinbrenner Shoe Company gave two sets of turnout gear to the Merrill Fire Department.
Weinbrenner primarily makes and ships boots to emergency responders and the military across the U.S. and overseas. Weinbrenner received the firefighter sets from a distributor and wanted to help out a local fire department.
"We know budgets for cities are tough nowadays, and we want to make sure that we can do our part to help the city," said Weinbrenner Shoe Company President Pat Miner. "It's a great pleasure to be able to service those who service us as a community. And that's what we really want to do."
The turnout suits include three layers: an outer shell, a moisture barrier, and a heat barrier. But they must be replaced every 10 years, if not more often, which can make it tough for Merrill to keep its 23 firefighters fully protected.
"This is great because it gives us a reset-the-clock on these sets of gear, and so we'll be able to put this in a secondary role until the time is up on that original sets of gear," said Merrill Fire Chief Dave Savone.
The goodwill between the department and Weinbrenner doesn't end with the suits. As part of the latest budget process, Merrill decided to purchase its department boots from Weinbrenner thanks in large part to a "hometown discount" the company offered.