MECHANICSBURG — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced Wednesday that Mechanicsburg Fire & EMS has been awarded $143,524 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program.
“Firefighters and first responders keep our communities safe in times of crisis,” Brown says in a press release. “These new federal resources will help ensure that Mechanicsburg’s skilled responders have the updated resources they need to safely do their jobs.”
Mechanicsburg Fire Chief Bob Keene said the department has applied to receive funding from the AFG program every year since 2011, and he attributes Brown’s support as the main reason the department was awarded the grant.
“Sen. Brown worked with Steve Castle (assistant fire chief/EMS chief) on this grant, and he really pushed for us to get it.”
News of the grant funding, earmarked for vehicle acquisition, couldn’t have come at a better time for the department.
“This grant is a huge relief to the department, village and community,” Keene said. “We have a 1995 (International) medic that is our first out, and our 1999 Ford medic has been out of service since January.”
To complicate matters, the International squad has been out of service since Saturday due to an air conditioning issue, which forced the department to borrow a loaner squad from the Urbana Fire Division.
In January, the department experienced a similar issue when it had to borrow a loaner squad from Madison County after the International squad was forced out of service by a starter issue. The Ford squad was forced out of commission due to engine and wiring issues.
“The repairs on the Ford are more than the truck is worth,” Keene said.
With this in mind, village council in June passed a resolution placing a 5-year, 2.5-mill levy for the replacement of fire and EMS vehicles on the November ballot. If passed, the levy is anticipated to generate a yearly revenue of $42,600.
“The goal is to put the grant funds toward a new medic, but we still need the levy considering a new medic costs around $200,000,” Keene said. “The grant is a good start, but with an aging fleet, we need the levy.”
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.