August 28, 2014 10:45:02 AM
District Five Volunteer Fire Department will replace two aging tanker trucks with a new, higher-capacity unit after securing a majority of the transaction's funding through a federal grant, volunteer fire department officials confirmed this week.
Austin Check, Oktibbeha County Fire Services' director of recruitment, retention and training, said the organization recently received notice that it was approved for a Fiscal Year 2013 Assistance to Firefighters Grant that will help facilitate a total purchase of $233,750.
Because of the grant, Oktibbeha County will only pay 5 cents on the dollar for the new equipment. The federal government will cover 95 percent, or $222,063, of those funds, leaving the county to pay up to $11,687.
Besides managing recruitment and training programs for the almost 160 county firefighters, Check also manages the volunteer organization's grant-writing process and programs. Since taking over the lion's share of OCFS grant writing, he said this is the third grant-funded truck the organization has received.
The county is currently receiving bids for the new apparatus, and that process should end Sept. 22. Check said the tanker should be delivered to Oktibbeha County within 240 days of the end of the bidding process.
The new unit will replace two aging trucks in the same class, including a unit not specifically designed for firefighting. Combined, the volunteer department operates two pumpers, three tankers and two multi-purpose rescue vehicles at individual fire departments on Oktoc and Bethel roads.
"This tanker will be a tremendous help because its water capacity is much greater than our current trucks, which can only hold about 2,000 gallons of water at the most," District Five Volunteer Fire Department Chief Terry Skinner said. "Better equipment helps us do our jobs better."
New equipment will also help the department preserve its Class 8 fire rating in the future as the designation is partly contingent on the department's ability to continuously transport water in emergency scenarios without interruption.
The department's Class 8 coverage was recently extended, Skinner said, to include territory within the Moor High Road and Williams Road area.
The 2012 improvement from a Class 10 district helps lower insurance rates for homeowners.
"We're all so tickled to have everyone in the new rating zone. I'm already hearing a lot of neighbors say they're seeing a decrease in costs," Skinner said.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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