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Audubon firefighters land $213,000 FEMA grant

Christmas came early for the Audubon Fire Department this week: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Monday that the volunteer fire department had received a $213,723 Assistance to Firefighters Grant.

According to Audubon Fire Chief Darcy Savig, the grant was a long time coming: "We've been applying for this grant ever since they started (the program) six years ago. We finally got one," he said Monday.

Savig said the grant would assist in the purchase of personal protective equipment --including turnout gear, hats, gloves, boots and helmets as well as specialized clothing for fighting grass fires -- and self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs) for each of the department's 22 active firefighters.

"That will bring us up to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) standards," Savig said.

In addition, the grant will enable the department to purchase a new cascade fill station for filling firefighters' air tanks, a new compressor, jaws of life and an assortment of rescue equipment, as well as provide training for the jaws of life and other specialized equipment.

Savig said the department would be reimbursed as each item of equipment is purchased, a process he expects to take one to two months.

The new equipment will not only enable the Audubon Fire Department to increase its effectiveness in firefighting, but also improve its response time with motor vehicle accidents, thus "significantly improving the safety and health of the Audubon firefighters and surrounding fire departments," according to the press release.

The Audubon Fire Department provides services to the City of Audubon as well as the townships of Audubon, Hamden and Lake Eunice, an area totaling 98.2 square miles.

"The AFG program has been instrumental in building capacity and providing needed resources for our nation's firefighters," said FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison. "From the purchase of equipment to first responder training, the AFG program has helped improve response capabilities and saved lives and property in communities throughout the United States."

Since 2004, the AFB program has provided almost $3 billion in grants to fire departments and first responder organizations to purchase response equipment, personal protective equipment, vehicles and fire prevention activities. It is administered cooperatively by FEMA's National Preparedness Directorate and the United States Fire Administration.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454