By Jim Schroeder
The Havre Fire Department has been awarded a $162,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a new rural firefighting vehicle.
The department now has a 1973 rural firefighting vehicle and a 1954 model.
The new vehicle called a wild lands interface vehicle still hasn't been picked out by the department, but the new one will be able to carry its own supply of water and be able to pump water faster than the two older models, Havre Fire Chief Dave Sheppard said.
The Havre Fire Department will have to match 10 percent of the total cost of the new vehicle, but that cost has already been covered by a capital improvement fund established by the Havre City Council, Sheppard said.
The department applied for the grant unsuccessfully last year.
"We're excited to get this grant," Sheppard said.
The grant is part of a FEMA program that is awarding $360 million from September to December to nearly 5,000 rural, urban and volunteer fire departments, U.S. Fire Administration information coordinator Tom 0lshanki said. The U.S. Fire Administration is a part of FEMA and focuses on fire safety and reduction of fire deaths.
The grants are being awarded to help stop a rising number of firefighting deaths. There have already been nearly 80 firefighter deaths in the United States in 2002, Olshanski said.
More than 19,000 fire departments had applied for the grants, but only 5,000 departments will be awarded, Olshanski said. The grants are appropriated by Congress, Olshanski added.
"The Havre Fire Department and the firefighters should be very proud that they were given this investment," Olshanski said.
Fourteen rural, urban and volunteer fire departments in the state were given FEMA grants and should be notified in the following weeks, Olshanski said. On the Hi-Line, the Inverness Rural Fire District is receiving $13,911 for fire operations and firefighter safety.
"But there should be more grants in Montana before the end of the year," Olshanski said.