Anheuser-Busch Lends A Hand With Plenty Of H20

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Volunteer fire departments not only need tankers of water to fight fires, but drinking water to prevent firefighter dehydration. Anheuser-Busch has a tradition of providing emergency drinking water and supplies for disaster-relief efforts, and in 2019 teamed up with the National Volunteer Fire Council to donate cans of water to firefighters across the country. On July 30, the Georgia brewery shipped four pallets of water to the Deer Creek Fire Protection District (DCFPD). The 9,408 cans are stored at Station Three on Hwy M, and can be put into coolers filled with ice when they respond to a fire.
“When we respond to a fire, we are in a fire-fighting mental state, not a water-drinking mode,” said Chad Hammond, DCFPD Fire Chief. “We usually don’t have time to think about water, and when the Auxiliary is able to follow us to a site with drinking water, it is usually hot by the time it gets there. This Anheuser-Busch donation is a big deal. The cans can be put in a cooler with ice and delivered to us by the Auxiliary. All we need now is an ice machine.”
 Hammond said that this was the first time DCFPD had been selected to receive water. He received an email from the company offering the donation, and he only had to send in some information about the fire department. Anheuser-Busch has been particularly aware that volunteer fire departments have limited budgets and resources, and is committed to providing 1.5 million cans of clean drinking water this year through the Emergency Drinking Water for Wildland Firefighters program. Every year Anheuser-Busch periodically pauses beer production to can the emergency drinking water.
“We have been fortunate this year and in 2019,” said Hammond.  “We have had regular rain that keeps the land hydrated and wildfires have not been a big problem,” said Hammond. “However, two years ago, we responded to a lot of them. The wildfire season occurs in the fall on through to about February because the vegetation is dry and there is little sap in the trees.”
In order to qualify for the donated water, DCFPD had to show that it responded to wildfires and planned to respond to them in 2020; they had to serve a population of 25,000 or less, be all volunteer or mostly volunteer; had to be available to accept the water delivery, store it and utilize it by the end of its shelf life (that is 365 days from packing date.) There was a definite need for the water, and what would be great is to have an ice machine about the size of the kind schools use. Members of the DCFPD have been looking for a donated one because they do not have the budget to buy one. Anyone willing to donate an ice machine or with information that would be helpful to the cause may call the main firehouse at 660-723-4769, or send a message on the DCFPD Facebook page.
Different Anheuser-Busch wholesalers deliver donated water to counties. The Deer Creek donations were brewed in a Georgia brewery, shipped to Missouri, and delivered in a 45-foot truck from the wholesaler out of Sedalia. Katelin Hladik and her husband attended the delivery event representing Anheuser-Busch, and took some promotion photos. About a dozen of the 20 DCFPD volunteers were there and helped unload the cans. Hammond said that the district has one EMT and several First Responders. A training class for First Responders is coming soon.