Valdosta (GA) Seeks Grant for Fire Equipment

The Valdosta City Council will consider three requests this week to file for grants with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

These grants will fall under the DHS’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, a program meant to meet the needs of fire departments and emergency-response organizations.

Under the grant, the city hopes to purchase a 100-foot aerial platform fire truck, four fire engines, and 10 thermal-imaging cameras.

Every item requested under the grant is meant to replace existing equipment.

The existing equipment has run past its recommended operational life span.

The aerial ladder being replaced was purchased in 1993. The standard operational life span for the aerial ladder is 20 years.

The four fire engines being replaced were purchased in 1998.

Because these four fire engines are primary front-line fire engines, or fire engines that are primarily used by the Valdosta Fire Department, they also need to be replaced, as the operational life span for a front-line fire engine is 15 years.

The city maintenance division has had to spend more time lately having to repair the existing units, and due to the increasing age of the equipment, replacement parts are becoming more rare.

The 10 thermal cameras being replaced are more than eight years old, and according to the city, are not reliable anymore.

More to the point, the city also said it has to constantly purchase new battery packs for the cameras, and these battery packs do not work for long.

The current state of these cameras has made them “an unreliable hazard,” according to the city.

These thermal cameras are a required tool for the fire department, as these cameras can spot hazards easier than if they had to rely on feel in a dangerous situation.

All three grant applications require a 10 percent match. For the aerial ladder, the match is $150,000 for a $1.5 million grant.

The fire engines require a $200,000 match for a $2 million grant, while the thermal cameras will require a $13,000 match for a $130,000 grant.

Funds for the ladder and engine matches will come from SPLOST VII, while the Valdosta Fire Department will pay the match for the thermal cameras.

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