Fire Dept. Crosses Fingers on FEMA Grant
By Brandi Makuski
The Stevens Point Fire Department is applying for a grant to bring in some new equipment at a fraction of its full cost.
According to Firefighter David Briggs, the department needs to upgrade one of its fire engines. The 25-year-old engine would cost more to repair than it’s worth, he said.
“It’s become difficult to maintain, and while it’s functional, it has reached a point where we know we need to upgrade,” Briggs said, adding the truck is only used currently as a backup unit.
A new engine, he said, would cost about $600,000. But thanks to a grant opportunity from FEMA, through the Assistance to Firefighters Grants program, the city has a chance to bring in the equipment for about 10 percent of that.
Along with the new truck, the department is also seeking grant funds to purchase a fire simulation trailer. The Police and Fire Commission gave approval for the grant application on Jan. 4.
“With the grant, we’d be looking up getting that new engine in anywhere from three months to a year, depending on which manufacturer it came from,” Briggs said. “Without the grant, we’d be looking at borrowing [funds] for the truck, and that could run into several years’ wait.”
Fire Chief Bob Finn said the trailer is designed to simulate a house fire. The department currently has to travel to Wisconsin Rapids, at a cost of $4,000 per day, for similar training at Mid-State Technical College.
If the city had its own trailer, Finn said, it could be parked in a semi-permanent location on city property and possibly bring in revenue by training other departments.
The trailer would cost just under $400,000, Finn said, but the FEMA grant would cover 90 percent of that cost.
If the grant request is successful, Finn said, the department could acquire almost one million dollars in equipment for less than $100,000.
The grant application, which Briggs said was about 65 pages long, is due Jan. 15. He expects to hear an answer in March.