Dow City-Arion Fire Chief Joe Gorden visited the Crawford County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday to provide details of a $549,000 grant awarded last week to Crawford County fire departments for the purchase of radios.
Gorden said the regional Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant was open to all 10 fire departments in the county, but the Denison Volunteer Fire Department (DVFD) was not eligible because DVFD had already received a regional grant in 2016 for the purchase of radios.
Six fire departments decided to participate: Dow City-Arion, Charter Oak, Vail, Westside, Manilla and Schleswig.
“Ricketts, Kiron and Deloit chose not to be a part of it, for whatever reason,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Kyle Schultz told the supervisors earlier in the meeting.
Five percent of the grant comes from cost-sharing from the fire departments.
Gorden said the grant would not have been awarded without the Therkelsen study, which was a needs assessment conducted in 2015 for a new communications system.
“We have well used the money that we spent for that study,” Gorden said.
Schultz said Charter Oak Fire Chief Ted Butler told him that Gorden needed a pat on the back.
Gorden said he did not do all the work.
He and Billie Poston, of Dow City, put the grant application together.
“I did the gathering and she did the entry,” he said.
For the 2018 grant cycle, 33 grants were given in the state of Iowa.
“We were the largest grant by over $100,000,” Gorden said.
“I said, ‘If I’m doing this, I’m throwing the dice big; I’m replacing every radio in my station because we’re only eligible for it one time.’”
The funds will be used for the purchase of handheld radios, truck-mounted radios, base stations, pagers and other similar items.
“That money cannot be used for infrastructure things,” he said. “That’s why we’re not able to apply for one for towers and equipment like that.”
“If you wanted a new fire engine, could you apply for a grant?” asked Supervisor Jeri Vogt.
Gorden said he could.
He said he had made several other successful applications to the grant fund, which was started by the federal government after 9/11.
The first was for about $120,000 in 2004. The second was for about $83,000 in 2012.
Last year a FEMA regional grant was awarded to Manilla, Westside and Vail for air packs.
“And we’ll continue to write grants for other areas and other equipment,” he said.
The 33 grants awarded in the state of Iowa came to a total of $3,628,852 and the average grant was for $109,965.
Vogt asked if there would be problems coming up with the matching $27,000.
“I already have that approved and secured through my department to pay for the equipment we’re getting,” Gorden said. “Most of the departments probably shouldn’t have a problem of coming up with the five percent.”
The Dow City-Arion share is about $6,000.
Each department is responsible for five percent of what their department has received.
“My backup plan was I was going to the bank and borrowing the money against something we’ve already got paid off sitting in that station,” Gorden said.
“Worst case scenario is the money would just go back to FEMA,” Schultz said.
If a department opted out, FEMA would be contacted and told the department didn’t want to receive the grant.
“Their portion of their equipment will be removed and the budget will be reduced by that amount,” Gorden said.