City considering FEMA grant for firefighting equipment

City Commissioners will consider during their Feb. 21 meeting to approve a grant application for firefighting equipment.

Great Falls Fire Rescue officials are planning to submit an application to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant for operations and safety equipment for $131,198.80.

Under the grant, the federal agency would cover 90 percent, or $119,263.45 of the total cost and GFFR would be responsible for 10 percent, or $11,926.35.

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GFFR is looking to purchase new fire hose, nozzles and thermal imaging cameras.

GFFR has not been able to replace “a large amount of specialty equipment and safety gear due to the increased cost of equipment.”

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If the grant is awarded, the city would pay their match through GFFR’s safety and medical equipment fund.

GFFR has a line item budget of $50,000 for safety and medical equipment to cover these expenses and the need exceeds the available resources, according to the staff report.

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An example of equipment needing replaced is 3-inch firefighting hose that entered service in the 1970s, tactical hand line hose that will not kink when maneuvering inside a structure and thermal imaging cameras that assist with finding victims in a zero visibility conditions, according to GFFR.

GFFR staff said they have hose shortages due to aging hoses that need to be replaced and thermal imagers are frequently out of service and have become unreliable.

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“Modern technologies allows for safer, lighter equipment to be used and minimize firefighter fatigue. This is especially true with the fire department only staffing three-person engine companies. Much of our obsolete and failing equipment does not meet industry standards,” according to the GFFR staff report.