RDO Equipment Co. awarded 41 grants and a total of more than $500,000 to 41 volunteer fire departments across the company footprint through a special initiative of its Community Builder program. The Community Builder program is a unique initiative supported by the Offutt Family Foundation and open to team members of R.D. Offutt Company, parent company of RDO Equipment Co. and R.D. Offutt Farms. The program awards grants to charities in which team members are actively engaged, with the goal of making a significant impact on the community.
All RDO Equipment Co. team members who are active volunteer firefighters were invited to apply for a Community Builder grant. As part of the application, the employee explained how the grant will benefit the local community along with information about his/her personal commitment to the fire department.
Many different types of requests were received, and the grants will be used to address these various, crucial needs of the fire departments including:
- Purchasing basic PPE and specialty gear for new volunteers of the department, and replacing outdated gear
- Purchasing rescue vehicles and equipment such as grain bin extraction, vehicle extraction, thermal imagery cameras, and nozzles
- Purchasing operational support equipment including air compressors, tools, and gloves
- Upgrading or purchasing radio systems and pagers
- Upgrading or expanding current facilities
Community Builder applications are submitted year-round and awarded twice a year. Because of the number of team members who donate time to their local volunteer fire department, this fall’s round of submissions was specially designated for rural and volunteer fire departments.
“The response we received was overwhelming and speaks to the great needs our communities have in providing resources to volunteer fire departments,” Jean Zimmerman, Executive Vice President of RDO Equipment Co., said. “Supporting our communities is important to the Offutt Family Foundation and these grants will greatly impact, not just the volunteer fire departments, but the citizens who rely on this crucial community service.”
In addition to RDO Equipment Co.’s efforts to recognize and award impactful grants to volunteer fire departments, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND, is pleased to support the initiative.
“Volunteer firefighters respond to complex emergencies at a moment’s notice, and they do so without any expectation of reward,” Heitkamp said. “Too often, these dedicated first responders find they are combatting fires with equipment that has far outlived its expiration date. That’s why I want to thank RDO Equipment Co. for recognizing the hard work of first responders and making sure volunteer fire departments have the proper tools to keep towns, businesses, and farms safe. I’m proud to support the Community Builder program, because continued investment in our rural volunteer first responders is a reliable investment in the safety and strength of our nation’s rural communities.”
A longtime advocate for rural and volunteer fire departments, Heitkamp introduced her RESPONSE Act, which became law in December 2016. The RESPONSE Act will help get first responders the tools and resources they need to handle hazardous incidents.