Grant will help get Jaws of Life

ALPENA – The Alpena Fire Department was awarded a grant check from Jack Peet, traffic safety manager of AAA Michigan, for $16,000 toward the purchase of a new Jaws of Life Wednesday. The Jaws of Life is a resuce tool that use hydraulics to cut through, spread, and assist in extricating victims from small spaces, such as in a crashed vehicle.

The Jaws of Life the department currently has is from 1983, and is so old that every time it is needed, the department calls for mutual aid assuming it will fail. The boron steel that modern cars are made out of is so strong that the old Jaws of Life cannot cut through it, according to Chief Bill Forbush, which is another reason they call for mutual aid.

“Sometimes the measures used to keep people safe prevent us from getting them out,” Forbush said. “The new jaws works to cut through the boron pillar posts in vehicles. This is going to make a big difference for the city and township.”

The $16,000 will be added to $3,000 from the Community Foundation of Northeast Michigan, a $162 donation from the students at All Saints Catholic School from their penny drive, and the money that was set aside in the capital improvement plan for the purchase.

The next step will be having a volunteer committee of firefighters and paramedics research the right tool for the department and to develop an idea for bids.

“We have been looking into a new jaws for a few years, but this help from AAA will put us where we need to be,” Forbush said.

Manufacturers typically provide training to emergency workers when a Jaws of Life is purchased, and once bids are gone through, personnel will receive the necessary training. The new Jaws of Life will be available for use through mutual aid.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.