The DeKalb County Fire Department will receive a $195,957 U.S. Department of Homeland Security vehicle acquisition grant, U.S. Representative Bart Gordon announced.
"Many communities struggle to maintain EMS and firefighting services," said Gordon, a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. "Even though demands on EMS providers and firefighters have increased tremendously over the years, the resources they depend on to provide their life-savings services have not.
"That's why Congress initiated the Assistance to Firefighters Program, which is similar to the highly successful COPS program that put more than 100,000 new police officers on the nation's streets."
Chief Donny Green said the department will use the funds to purchase a tanker that can haul 2,500 gallons of water. Currently, the only fire truck that covers the entire 305 square miles of DeKalb County is a 1979 converted milk truck.
"The rural parts of DeKalb County don't have fire hydrants, so we have to haul water to the fire," Green said. "This will let us be a whole lot more efficient in the county and in providing mutial aid to the surrounding cities and counties."
The DeKalb County Fire Department's 11 substations respond to calls from Smithville and Alexandria and DeKalb and Cannon counties.
In addition to improving efficiency, the new fire tanker should help the department recruit and retain volunteers and decrease homeowner insurance rates.
"Just being able to provide water and a safer truck for the firefighters is one part of it,", Green said. "One of the things insurance looks at is how the fire department hauls water. Part of the homeowner's premium is based on how local fire protection is rated."
The tanker will cost nearly $206,000 with DeKalb County providing 5% matching funds.