The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department is making application for a FEMA Micro Grant under the Assistance to Firefighters Program to purchase new Jaws of Life extrication equipment.
The aldermen authorized the filing of this grant application Monday night during its regular monthly meeting at the request of Fire Chief Charlie Parker.
The $25,000 grant would require a $1,250 local match. Chief Parker said the funding would pay for most of the new equipment needed to replace the older tools, which have been in use for nearly thirty years. " We're looking to write this grant to replace our Jaws of Life equipment. The tools we have we purchased 28 years ago. We are still using them. We've added to them twice through the years but we've still got an old set. We're looking at a new system that cost close to $40,000, which is pretty expensive. It's not something we can buy a little bit at a time because the new system doesn't interchange with the older stuff. The one we're looking at, you've got to buy a new generator, cutter, and spreader and all that," he said.
While the grant will cover most of the expense, Chief Parker said the department will still need some accessories to go with the new system. "Once we get into it, we can add some pieces but the initial set is a lump sum deal. We're looking at applying for this $25,000 grant. We could buy the cutter, spreaders, generator, and hoses for $32,000 to get us started and add to it later. The $25,000 grant would go a long way toward paying for it. Our portion for matching the micro grant would be $1,250. If we decide we can afford to do it, I'd like to put another $3,000 with it and get the rest of the stuff but that would have to be voted on separately by the board. We do have the money in our budget to pay the grant match. There's $10,000 in capital outlay for the department, which is plenty to cover it," said Chief Parker.
Meanwhile, Chief Parker said he has heard nothing yet from the department's application for a FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant, which was filed a few months ago. This grant, if approved, would fully fund the hiring of two firefighters for up to two years at no costs to the city. The city applied for the grant last year but did not receive approval for funding.
Chief Parker said he is hoping for better fortunes this time. "We applied for the SAFER grant earlier this year. We have not been turned down yet so we're still in the running," he said.