RC fire department hopes to receive FEMA grant

ROGERS CITY – The Rogers City Area Fire Department is waiting to find out if it has been picked for a federal grant to buy new air packs.

The department is hoping to get about $150,000 in grant money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant to buy the important equipment, Chief Mike Kroll said. If approved, the grant requires a 5 percent match.

Currently, the department’s air packs are 20 years old or more, and are nearing the end of their useful lives.

“It does not help that we have five different models,” he said. “That’s five different models with five different masks. It’s not good.”

These air packs, formally known as self-contained breathing apparatus, are crucial pieces of equipment, Kroll said. Firefighters used them while battling the blaze that destroyed the former Fred Fisch Brewery on Jan. 21.

“We’ve used them on all kinds of fires, everything from structure fires to vehicle fires, you name it,” he said.

Not only do firefighters use them when battling blazes, they also could use them to respond to hazardous material spills, Kroll said.

FEMA is in the process of announcing grant awards, and the fire department likely won’t find out until later in the spring if its request is approved, Kroll said.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant aims to help fire and emergency medical service departments to meet their emergency response needs, according to information from FEMA’s website. It’s been available since 2001, and provides money for new vehicles, training, equipment and other necessary expenses.

During the 2011 fiscal year, 70 Michigan fire and EMS departments received $16,904,051 in grant money, according to FEMA data. Awards ranged from $8,550 for the Sault Ste. Marie Fire Department to two awards of $1.75 million each for Detroit and Grand Rapids fire departments.

Alpena Fire Department received a grant for the 2012 fiscal year for $8,550, and East Grand Lake Fire Department got $9,025, according to the grant website. Both awards are for operations and safety-related expenses, such as equipment purchases or training costs.

In other business, the Rogers City Area Fire Department Authority recently went over the department’s budget and added a few new line items, Kroll said. These items cover required yearly maintenance like ladder, pump and hose testing.

The department is currently on track for its budget, Kroll said.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688.