Federal grant could help city firefighters reach higher

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – The city may soon take firefighting to new heights thanks to a federal grant that officials applied for last year.

A 100-foot aerial platform fire truck will be purchased using a $675,000 from a Federal Emergency Management Agency firefighter grant and $75,000 in required city matching money.

Fire Department officials learned two weeks ago that the grant application was approved, contingent upon their being able to raise matching funds, and brought the proposal to the Public Safety Commission on Monday for a recommendation. Fire Chief Mark Hogrebe then presented the commission’s positive recommendation to Mayor Gary Burtka and the City Council on Tuesday.

Hogrebe proposed different ideas for budget cost savings and fundraisers to the council on Tuesday to acquire the matching money in order to secure the grant.

Council members also were eager to assist with the fundraising. Councilwoman Beverly Kelley offered to use $15,000 from the city’s festivities committee revenue to help meet the matching fund requirements.

Hogrebe had high praise for Tammy Jones, a department secretary and grant certified professional who successfully navigated the grant application process and earned funds for the city for which many other groups are competing.

She became a certified grant writer in Texas, where she successfully completed a four hour test to become one of seven certified grant writers in Michigan.

Hogrebe said having an aerial platform truck allows the city to better approach fires in high rises, like senior apartments, and to get to fires from above at roof level. He said fire equipment suppliers with excess inventory encourage bidders to stay within range of available grant and matching funds.

The city’s current aerial truck is functional but is 27 years old and is far behind in technology by today’s standards, Hogrebe said, and is costing more money in maintenance. Newer trucks, he said, are equipped with gauges that keep track not only of road miles, but also the number of hours spent idling at fires to measure equipment wear and tear.