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Grant money means new equipment for Buckley firefighters

By Jessica Keller, The Courier-Herald

The Buckley Fire Department will be getting some much needed equipment thanks to a grant it recently received.

The department was awarded a $45,270 Fire Act grant from the Federal Emergency Management Act United States Fire Administration in December. The grant requires a 10 percent match of about $5,000 from the city, which the department already had budgeted. The funds will go toward replacing VHF radio pagers, VHF portable radios and a fire station vehicle exhaust removal system.

This is the second year in a row the department has received the grant, and Fire Chief Alan Predmore said that was a bit of a surprise because he doesn't think it's usual for departments to get chosen two consecutive years. On the other hand, Predmore was certain the grant application submitted was a good one.

"We certainly didn't have any problem demonstrating the need," he said.

Buckley's pagers, which are used to alert firefighters to an emergency call, are quite old, and have been in service for close to 20 years. New pagers cost about $450 apiece.

"We have been trying for about three years to replace our pagers," Predmore said. "We've done everything we've possibly can do to extend the life of the pagers.

"We've basically gotten to the point where if the pager breaks we can't repair it," he said, adding the pagers are so old, parts are no longer made.

Buckley also needed new portable radios, which cost about $1,000 each, and are used to communicate at the scene of an emergency. Unless the grant board reconsiders the number of radios and pagers, as Buckley has requested it to do, buckley will be able to buy only 12 portable radios and 38 pagers instead of the original number of 20 radios and 40 pagers.

The grant funds will also allow Buckley to buy a fire station vehicle exhaust removal system, which clears the exhaust from fire trucks from the building and costs about $20,000. Currently the department doesn't have one at all, which has been a big safety concern, Predmore said.

The vehicle exhaust removal system, which is easily dismantled and reinstalled if Buckley gets a new fire department, Predmore said, will also allow the department to implement a firefighter sleeper program, which has been a goal for the department for awhile. That program, will not begin until the middle of the year as the system still has to be installed, and more space has to be cleared from the fire department's upstairs area.

"It's still going to be really tight," Predmore said.

Jessica Keller can be reached at jkeller@courierherald.com

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