Local fire departments could gain some valuable equipment at minimal cost after a move from the Tallassee City Council on Tuesday. The council approved the Tallassee Fire Department moving ahead with the grant application process for some new equipment.
Assistant chief David Rogers attended the city’s work session and council meeting to request approval from the council to move forward with a grant application in which funds would cover a tanker truck, turnout gear and loose equipment for the TFD and seven other departments at a minimal cost.
"(There are) three grants," Tallassee Mayor Johnny Hammock explained in the work session. "The one for the tanker truck is a very competitive grant."
Hammock also explained the department once owned a tanker truck, but it was sold in 2010 and the proceeds were used to repair the 110-foot platform truck the department had at the time.
With no tanker truck, TFD depends heavily on neighboring departments to respond if no hydrant is available.
"Anytime that we are not using a city hydrant or hydrant in general, we are depending on other departments to bring water to us,” Rogers said.
These grants would have a match of less than $20,000, which would not affect the city's general budget, according to Rogers.
"With these three grants would be $16,000 and change. Would that be in the existing budget?" council member Bill Godwin asked.
According to Rogers, the match funding is already in the fire department's budget.
"We are not requiring an allocation from the general fund or from outside the budget," Rogers said.
Sixteen thousand is the maximum amount TFD may have to match; the matching cost could be lower.
Hammock also questioned the additional cost to insure the tanker truck, and if the fire association would help fund the extra cost associated with the potential purchase.
"You would have to accept the awards and at that time we can have the conversations about the associated costs that go with it, like insurance," Rogers said. "We're just asking for permission to submit the application. There's a totally separate process if it's awarded."
If the grant is approved, the city council will have approved the award at that time.
In addition to increased insurance fees, one council member pointed out other associated costs that would come along with equipment of this nature.
"The more trucks you have, the more potential you have for maintenance cost and things like that," Godwin said.
According to Rogers, the tanker is the only thing that would result in a potentially significant increase in insurance fees.
The taker and the loose equipment require only a 5 percent match, and the turnout gear is a 10 percent match.
"The reason is that turnout gear is part of the original application," Rogers said. "As of (Tuesday) afternoon, there are seven other fire departments that are going to be on that application. It's actually hosted by Friendship Fire Department. It's collective; all of us are applicants together. That is how in 2015 we replaced all of our air packs."
With seven fire departments on the grant application, it widens the coverage area and pushes the population over the threshold and into the 10% match bracket.
"That's why you see 10 percent for it versus 5 percent for the others,” Rogers said.
Hammock asked if the fire department has received any letters of support from Congress members and U.S. senators.
"We will seek that," Rogers said. "The official application process opens Dec. 3 and ends Jan. 13. Before we start moving forward with this, I wanted to seek your permission to advance it before we do all the legwork."