Every day, millions of people count on volunteer and rural community fire units to protect them and their property. More than 825,000 volunteer and small town firefighters do their jobs, often with little recognition and without the latest equipment or training.

Last October, National Fire Prevention Month, the Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade™ awarded grants to help small town and rural community fire departments across the United States meet their most critical needs. The Excel Volunteer Fire Department was one of the fortunate grant recipients. 

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The Excel Fire Department in Excel, Alabama (pop. 664) is an all-volunteer brigade of 30 men and women. The fire department responds to structural, grassland and wood fires as well as automobile wrecks, oil spills and hazardous materials situations. They also assist other fire departments in the region, and run an engaging fire prevention program at the local school.

When the firefighters responded to a call, they put their lives at increased risk because their turnout gear – protective clothing, helmets and boots – was more than a decade old and in dire need of replacement. At $1,500 a set, the fire department didn’t have the funds to purchase new gear.


That remained the case until the Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade came to the rescue – and awarded the Excel Volunteer Fire Department a $10,000 grant!


“We know first-hand the significant role these fire units play in the life of a community. The Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade is one way we say ‘thank you’ for their work,” said Jim Hannan, CEO and President of Georgia-Pacific. “Many of our own employees are members of their local fire and rescue units, so we also know the need for the financial support necessary to safely continue the work these departments do.”


The Excel Fire Department used its grant to purchase seven new sets of turnout gear. The difference in the old and new sets is easy to see. Less visible but just as important, the firefighters of Excel now have one less thing to worry about as they carry out their vital service to the community.