It’s not every day that the Tomé-Adelino Volunteer Fire Department can buy new equipment to serve the community, but this week the fire chief is celebrating a $31,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Fire Chief Jack Dickey learned this week that the department was awarded the grant money to enhance basic fire service delivery to the area. Through FEMA’s 2002 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, the Tomé-Adelino Fire Department will receive $31,529 for new equipment.
“The program is intended to get money to fire departments to use for projects to improve fire safety and operations, fire prevention, apparatus and emergency medical services,” Dickey said. “We actually applied for one last year, but we didn’t get it. We’ll use the money for safety and operations.”
More often than not, local volunteer fire departments are depending more and more on grant money to fund their services. The Tomé-Adelino fire department is no different. Dickey said it will use the money for eight new air packs (self-contained breathing apparatus) for the firefighters and 15 new masks.
“Currently, we have to share masks,” Dickey said. “We have six masks and six air packs, and part of the problem we have is that the air packs are already at the end of their useful life.”
With the new equipment, volunteer firefighters will now be able to comfortably fight fires knowing that their equipment will operate properly, Dickey said. The air bottles they have now are warn out and are leaking.
The air packs, which are carried on the firefighters’ backs, provide essential air when they are involved in putting out blazes. The masks cover the firefighters’ entire faces and provides a seal to keep the air in.
“We’re also going to be able to purchase a couple more items for our firefighters with this grant,” Dickey said. “We’re going to get individual bags for each firefighters to clip onto their gear. These bags are relatively inexpensive, but they’ll be nice to have.”
Another piece of equipment that the fire department desperately needed and will now be able to purchase is a new air-pack-filling station at the department located on NM 47. Although the department currently has a filling station, Dickey said it’s not user-friendly.
“The new filling station will benefit all of the other departments in the county,” he said. “It’s basically an air compressor that filters the air to get relatively pure air. Now, we’ll be able to purchase a series of new gauges that controls the high-pressure fill bottles that are used to fill individual bottles.”
The cost of the fill station will be about $3,500, while each air pack will cost $3,000 and the masks will run about $120. Dickey also said he is anticipating 10 percent of the $31,000 in matching funds from various community organizations.
Although Dickey hasn’t received the official confirmation of the grant from FEMA, he says, because the New Mexico congressional delegation has released the news of the grant award, he’s confident the fire department will get the funds.
“I’m really excited about it, but I don’t think it’ll really sink in until I get officially notified,” Dickey said. “We tried last year to get money for a new brush truck, but we were unsuccessful. This year we were very careful in our grant application when we applied back in March.
“We studied the guidelines that came with the application and focused our effort to make it fit,” he said. “Some of the problems in the past were that our presentation didn’t quite fit the grant program. We really did our homework and it paid off this time.”
Even though the Tomé-Adelino Volunteer Fire Department didn’t get a grant for a new brush truck, it has received grants in the recent past for other projects and equipment. Last year, the fire department received $3,500 from the Bureau of Land Management for forestry firefighting equipment and $6,500 from the state forestry for computer and presentation equipment to inform the public about fire prevention.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.