- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

WESTLAKE, La. (AP) - Westlake’s police and fire departments got an early Christmas present - a $115,000 grant from Phillips 66.

Steve Geiger, plant manager of Phillips 66’s Westlake refinery, said the money comes from the company’s Community Signature Initiative, which aids communities with emergency preparedness and safety efforts. The grant was awarded last Friday.

Mayor Bob Hardey tells The American Press (http://bit.ly/13reVsn) the money will be split between the two public safety departments. The Fire Department will get $60,000; the Police Department will get $55,000.

Hardey said the money will enable police to buy and outfit a new patrol car, while Fire Chief Jacques Picou said his department will use the grant to buy a rescue bag system - air bags that can lift the weight of an 18-wheeler truck.

The Police Department is also getting a $25,000 grant from the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury to buy an additional police cruiser, which will also be outfitted with money from the Phillips 66 grant.

“We will have two new police cruisers, and we will sell the two old ones,” said Hardey, a former Phillips 66 instrumentation foreman. “When one comes in, the other will go out. No extras.”

Police Chief Christopher Wilrye said the new cruisers will increase officers’ presence in the city and enhance security.

Picou said the city will complement its rescue bag system with a stabilization kit.

“These will give us the capability of being able to respond with quicker rescues,” he said. “That way, we can help a lot better. We’re modernizing what we have; we have better training. But these items have been missing from our toolbox.”

The Fire Department has had to delay buying a rescue bag system because of budget constraints, Picou said. He said that without the grant the department would have to bring in a bag system from another department in an emergency.

“The closest ones we have are in Lake Charles and north Sulphur,” Picou said. “With all of the traffic buildup and train waits, as with delays in response, we could be talking anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes waiting to try and rescue somebody.”

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Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com

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