Kentucky fire department better equipped to fight wildfires

Community News

Foundation, Marathon Pipe Line, Rush, Kentucky, Catlettsburg
Close-up of the compressed air foam system (CAFS) in the back of the department’s all-terrain vehicle used to fight the recent wildfires in Kentucky.
  • A Kentucky volunteer fire department is putting to use a game-changing tool to fight fires, which they acquired through a grant from Marathon Pipe Line.
  • The $5,000 investment from Marathon helped the East Fork Fire Department in Eastern Kentucky purchase a fire-retardant foam system that can fight fires and prevent further burns.
  • In February, the department successfully used the system housed on the back of its all-terrain vehicle to reach a wind-driven fire that quickly spread in the area.

It was not long after Marathon Pipe Line (MPL) delivered a grant to the East Fork Fire Department (EFFD) in Rush, Kentucky, near the West Virginia border, that the all-volunteer department was able to put the investment to good use. In February, hard-to-fight wildfires quickly spread across the rugged terrain of Central Appalachia, putting the people and places they call home in jeopardy.

“Wildfires pop up quickly but getting to them quickly and with the proper equipment is another story,” said EFFD Chief Joe Childers.

Tyler Johnson with MPL presents EFFD Chief Joe Childers with a check for $5,000 to purchase the CAFS.

In the summer of 2022, Childers submitted a grant proposal through Marathon Petroleum’s community investment program to purchase a CAFS, or a compressed air foam system, used in firefighting to deliver fire retardant foam for the purpose of extinguishing fire or protecting unburned areas. Not only is it easily transported – in this case, aboard EFFD’s all-terrain vehicle – it’s safe for the environment.

“It really is a game-changer and certainly proved invaluable during a recent mutual aid response to a very large, wind-driven brush fire that we were able to extinguish before it could further spread,” Childers said.

"Wildfires pop up quickly but getting to them quickly and with the proper equipment is another story."

This is the second grant from Marathon in the past two years supporting EFFD’s efforts to protect the nearly 3,000 people in its service area of Boyd County, which is also home to Marathon’s Catlettsburg refinery.

Another view of the CAFS conveniently located in the back of the department’s all-terrain vehicle.

“We have strong ties to this community and the region through our pipeline operations,” said Josh Sharp, Owensboro Area Manager at MPL. “It’s also home to many Marathon employees and their families who are committed to living out our core values and making a positive impact in the communities where we operate.”

EFFD uses fire-retardant foam to protect a propane tank from wildfires in the area.
Johnson (center left) with members of EFFD at the check presentation.