ISHPEMING - The Ishpeming Volunteer Fire Department has been awarded a 2012 Assistance to Firefighters Grant.
The AFG is a grant awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It's a competitive grant and the federal government will pay 95 percent of what a department needs to do an upgrade with the other 5 percent coming for the department's local government.
The Ishpeming Fire Department was awarded $57,958 from FEMA and $3,023 match from the city of Ishpeming totaling $61,008 to use for operations and safety. The fire department applied back in July.
Equipment sits waiting to be used at the Ishpeming Fire Hall. The city’s fire department recently received a grant for more than $61,000 to help purchase new gear. (Journal file photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
"It's great because $60,000 is hard to come by in a small town," said Ishpeming Fire Chief Ed Anderson. "It saves our taxpayers some money and we get to upgrade our equipment. There's not really any downsides to when you pick up $60,000 worth of equipment for about $3,000."
The department is replacing 12 air packs. The new ones will be lighter and carbon fiber cylinders. According to Anderson, some of the current air packs are up to 15 years old and the new one will be safer for firefighters.
"With some of these old packs being 15 years old some of them are coming to the end of their useful life and the maintenance is starting to mount up on them," Anderson said. "They get pretty expensive to maintain when different things break on them."
AFG has been helping firefighter and other first responders to obtain needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources since 2001. Since 2007 the Ishpeming fire department has received $147,378 in federal assistance. The program was designed to help smaller fire departments to come up to curve with firefighting standards, Anderson said.
He said somewhere around 10 to 15 percent of the applicants are funded. Anderson said that around 18,000 departments applied for the 2011 grant, a year Ishpeming received one, and only about 1,800 were funded.
U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, both D-Michigan, announced in a press release their support for the Ishpeming fire department's efforts to help improve its operations and safety.
"Across Michigan, our firefighters provide brave and crucial services to communities like Ishpeming and Ironwood," Stabenow said. "This grant will help fund the resources and tools they need to perform their duties effectively and keep our families safe."
Both senators also showed their support for Ironwood Fire Department who received $40,375 in grant funds.
"Every day, our first responders stand ready to protect lives and property," Levin said. "This grant will help provide the Ishpeming and Ironwood fire departments with the support they need to protect their communities."
A total of 56 fire and emergency departments have received funding from the 2012 AFG.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org