County Fire Department Receives Grant

New pumper/tanker to serve county residents

Amber Houston
ECB Publishing, Inc.

“Victory” is on the lips of every firefighter in the county: Jefferson County Fire Rescue (JCFR) has been awarded the Assistance for Firefighters Grant (AFG). This award will pay for a brand new pumper/tanker truck valued at $235,000. For fire departments, the AFG grant is the big fish: the Department of Homeland Security is responsible for the grant and Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 1.21.45 PMgives away millions of dollars each year. The grant can be where departments’ wildest dreams come true, but it can also be a source of disappointment: because departments compete for the funds nation-wide, it can be difficult to receive an award. Chief Mark Matthews explains: “Of the money they have each year, only twenty-five percent is for paid departments. A quarter is for volunteer departments, a quarter is for combination departments, and a quarter is for other departments. Of the twenty-five percent JCFR is eligible for, only twenty-five percent of that is designated for trucks. So you can see how the funding gets smaller and smaller, depending on what you’re applying for. And trucks are expensive: only the few top applicants get awarded funds.” This means that many departments apply year after year, without ever receiving an award. Not so for JCFR: they received an award in 2003, which bought the squad truck they drive still to this day. After a decade-long losing streak, the Department is apparently back on the upswing. This grant will allow JCFR to purchase a pumper/tanker and a great deal of the equipment that goes on it. That particular type of truck is capable of hauling 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of water and drafting water out of lakes and holding ponds, as well as providing for all regular firefighting capabilities. The truck needs to be ordered and then built— Chief Matthews expects that the process will take five to six months or longer. This is comparable to the last grant they received— a new Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance. The new ambulance, Rescue 3-2, went into service this past spring. It was a grant award from the Department of Health, which contributed $100,000 towards its purchase. JCFR also received monitor/defibrillators from the Department of Health (valued at $90,000) in the same grant period, an almost-unprecedented feat. All three of these grants are called “matching-funds” grants: in a matching funds grant, the applicant pays for a percentage and the grantor pays the rest. The AFG Grant is a five percent match: the grant will pay $224,000 and JCFR will pay only $11,000. JCFR spent $33,000 towards the ambulance purchase, and $9,000 towards the monitor/defibrillators. They also recently received a thermal imaging camera from the Firehouse Subs grant, valued at $10,000. This was In all, JCFR has spent only $53,000 for $458,000 worth of equipment to better serve the county. Chief Matthews is ecstatic: “In the past two years, we have received more new equipment than we have in the last twenty.”