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Posted: 07/16/14

BRFD receives $237,500
grant to purchase tanker

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      The Bruce-Romeo Fire Department (BRFD) has received substantial funding from the federal government to replace an aging vehicle.
       As of July 1, the BRFD received word that it'll receive $237,500 from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program to replace its tanker truck.
       The Board of Trustees will discuss the grant and vehicle purchase at its July 16 meeting.
       The grant program, held by the U.S. Fire Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), provides financial support to local fire departments.
       Fire Chief Ken Staelgraeve, who became chief in November, said the deadline for the program was in December, so he had about a month to assess the department's needs and send in an application. He said the main priority that popped up was replacing the tanker.
       The 1976 vehicle is actually a donated dump truck chassis that was modified to be a tanker truck. Staelgraeve said the vehicle's safety measures like driver restraints, lighting and braking do not meet current standards.
       "It's also a bit under-powered for its size," he said. "It's just time to replace it."
       With the grant in place, Staelgraeve said the first step is to develop the vehicle specifications and solicit bids for the vehicle. He said the vehicle will be built for the township, which could take about a year to complete.
       "We certainly hope to have it sooner," he said.
       He said the new tanker will become a front-line piece of equipment that is part of the initial response to an emergency, whereas the current tanker isn't used in this capacity.
       This means the township can provide the truck to emergencies in neighboring communities to improve automatic aid responses. The automatic aid agreement states the BRFD, Washington Township and Armada departments will dispatch four-member crews to confirmed structural fires in their communities.
       The township is required to provide a 5 percent match to the grant, which Staelgraeve said will come from the fire department's budget.
       Staelgraeve said vehicle grants through the program are the most competitive and difficult to obtain due to the high dollar amount. He said each application is scored by a panel and is compared to other applications. He believes the BRFD was successful because of the vehicle's age.
       "We're happy to be able to move forward, it certainly addresses a need in the department," he said.
       Bruce Township wasn't the only recipient in Macomb County to receive a FEMA grant. The Sterling Heights Fire Department received $193,986 for operations and safety.
       "This money certainly couldn't have come at a better time," said Sterling Heights Fire Chief Chris Martin in a written statement. "With shrinking budgets, making sure our guys have what they need to get the job done has become a real challenge. This grant will go a long way."


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