Wears Valley Fire Department wins new helmets in national contest

WEARS VALLEY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Wears Valley Fire Department was in desperate need of new helmets.

"The old ones would fall off your face and fall off the side of your head because they're so old," said fire fighter Mike Carbone.

Buying new ones would cost about $10,000, and the department has just $6,000 to spend on equipment each year. Luckily, the company Phenix Fire Helmets held a national photo and video contest on Facebook. The prize: brand new, state-of-the-art helmets.

"We actually planned the video out for a long time, thinking what we could do and we just kind of went with it," said Captain Chris Young.

Hundreds of fire departments across the country participated in the contest and Wears Valley won. Phenix Fire Helmets handed out 25 new helmets to the department Saturday morning.

"It's really huge - it helps us out because we're always in the need for money and need to buy equipment and stuff," said Chief Tony Patty.

"New helmets offer us better protection, and it frees up some money we can spend on something else," said fire fighter and paramedic Nathan Huskey.

Phenix said it chose Wears Valley because their video showcased their strong community involvement, including how they helped rescue Aimee Kiefer from a car crash in 2011.

"I owe them my life and they deserve everything they've gotten. I'm so happy they've gotten these helmets," said Aimee Kiefer.

Now, the fire fighters will be able to battle flames and save more lives with gear that better protects their lives.

"These are like the Cadillacs of helmets. They're really made fantastic. They're made of composite, which means that they're lightweight. They fit your head," said Carbone.

Phenix fire helmets ended up splitting the grand prize. Along with Wears Valley, a fire department in Missouri will also get new helmets.

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