WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJMN) – The Ahmeek Fire Department will receive $213,942 in federal funding to improve operations and safety for firefighters and personnel. These federal funds come from the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.
“Firefighters in Michigan risk their lives every day to keep our communities safe,” Sen. Gary Peters, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said. “This grant will help ensure first responders at the Ahmeek Fire Department have additional resources to continue safely and effectively protecting their community.”
Eligible fire departments and Emergency Medical Services organizations in Michigan and across the country can apply for Assistance to Firefighters Grants. These competitive grants help first responders purchase the equipment and obtain the training needed to handle fire-related hazards. More information about the grant can be found at http://www.fema.gov/firegrants.
“Our firefighters put their lives on the line to protect our families, homes, and communities,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow said. “These new resources will help keep the public safe and give our first responders the equipment they need to do their jobs more safely and effectively.”
Fire Captain Michael Defina said the grants are highly competitive and they consider themselves fortunate to have been selected.
They will replace personal protective equipment, better known as turnout gear, which includes coats, pants, boots, helmets, and gloves, which averages out to more than $4,000 per fire fighter. They also plan to replace their SCUBA tanks which can cost $7,500 each. The fire department will also purchase other equipment and accessories.
The fire department has an annual budget of $6-8,000. Defina says there’s no way they’d be able to afford all of this equipment on their own.
“Certainly we receive support from the community at the extent possible. We have our two annual fundraisers which include our independence day celebration and our annual spaghetti dinner which is coming up very shortly in November. However we receive no millage and no tax funding. With a $6-8,000 annual budget which is our fundraising amount it is very difficult to purchase equipment. including that which ensures our live’s safe,” said Defina.
In 2020, the fire department received a grant for $173,000 to purchase a new rescue truck which would replace a current vehicle which is a pickup truck from 1985. With that grant, the fire department is still $45,000 short of the total purchase price of the vehicle. they are hoping community donations will make that happen in the next couple of months.