Phillips 66 gives Westlake $115k police, fire grant

Published 7:46 am Saturday, December 20, 2014

Westlake’s police and fire departments got an early Christmas present Friday in the form of 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.

“We had this in the works since September before the election,” Geiger said. “So we reached out to the police and fire departments and told them we had the opportunity to get a grant. So we basically collected the needs of the community and went back to our corporate office and said this is what we see as a benefit to the community.”

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Mayor Bob Hardey said the money will be split between the two departments. The Fire Department will get $60,000; the Police Department will get $55,000.

Hardey, a former Phillips 66 instrumentation foreman, said the money will enable police to buy and outfit a new patrol car. The 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,” he said. “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.

The Fire Department will use its money to buy a rescue bag system — air bags that can lift the weight of an 18-wheeler truck, said Fire Chief Jacques Picou. The city will compliment its rescue bag system with a stabilization kit, Picou said.

“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 put off 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.”

In other news, Hardey said the City Council will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 5 to discuss utility rate increases. Hardey will also announce appointments for city attorney, prosecutor, city clerk and public works director.(Rick Hickman/American Press)