City Commission approves use of $498K of CDBG funds for fire truck purchase

City Commissioners unanimously approved Great Falls Fire Rescue’s request to use $498,927 of the city’s Community Development Block Grant funds to replace its current 2004 model fire engine pumper truck, which is housed at Station 1 downtown, and the purchase of the truck during their April 21 meeting.

The city’s CDBG program has been contentious in recent years, but city staff found other cities using their allocation to support local fire departments and worked with GFFR to use the funds to purchase the truck. Some of the city’s CDBG funds need to be used by a certain date to meet the timeliness requirement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Commissioner Rick Tryon said, “this is really a great deal.”

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He asked if in the future the city could use CDBG dollars to fund the police department since it’s also downtown, which is a low to moderate income district.

Craig Raymond, city planning director, said that he spoke to Great Falls Police Chief Dave Bowen about using CDBG funds to help with the radio replacement project but it was ultimately determined that didn’t meet the HUD requirements since it would serve the entire community, which doesn’t meet the income threshholds. The city worked with the regional HUD office in Denver to ensure that the fire truck purchase did meet the requirements.

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Raymond said they keep the police department in mind when considering CDBG funds if there are projects that meet the guidelines.

Commissioner Mary Moe said this was an “excellent use of these funds.”

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The funds will be used to replace GFFR’s 2004 truck is one of their highest priority needs since the current truck no longer meets the National Fire Protection Association standard.

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The proposal meets HUD’s guidelines, according to staff, since the service area for Station 1 corresponds with a significant low to moderate income population based on Census data analysis. That station also fields the highest volume of service calls within the city.

With the grant funds, the city would purchase a 2019 Enforcer Pumper Fire Apparatus from Hughes Fire Equipment of Spokane, Wash.

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Currently, GFFR is using a 2004 Pierce Fire Pumper as a front line apparatus that would be moved into reserve status or sold.

The original submitted bid provided to GFFR was for $498,927 and includes a factory discount that could lower the purchase price.

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On April 10, GFFR received a revised bid reducing the amount to $494,335. If that discount is secured, the difference in cost will stay in the city’s CDBG fund for future eligible projects.

The city is using it’s H-GAC Cooperative Purchasing Agreement, which commissioners approved in 2015, and allows the city to use a competitive bidding process with the increased buying power of the purchasing group.