Muscatine city council approves grant award for new fire dept. equipment

The City of Muscatine approved a grant award during Thursday night’s city council meeting to purchase 41 new air packs for the Muscatine Fire Department.
Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 11:40 PM CDT
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Muscatine, Iowa (KWQC) - The City of Muscatine approved a grant award during Thursday night’s city council meeting to purchase 41 new air packs for the Muscatine Fire Department. The fire department was notified that they had been awarded the $260,909.91 through FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant on August 12th.

TV6 spoke with the Assistant Fire Chief of the Muscatine Fire Department, Mike Hartman, about their need for new air packs and what it meant to receive the highly competitive grant. The fire department last purchased self-contained breathing apparatus, or SCBA, back in 2001. While still usable, the equipment is out of date with current technology and devices used by mutual aid departments.

“The air packs we have are of that vintage and the thing is, like anything, as time goes on, it becomes more and more hard to find parts and maintain the reliability of devices, especially something so critical like the self-contained breathing apparatus,” Hartman said.

Firefighters use SCBA on the job and depend on it to protect themselves.

“Any amount of smoke can be deadly for us so we wear it quite a bit for even smaller fires,” Hartman said, “Anytime we have any kind of fire. We go ahead and put it on and we hook into the air to protect ourselves as we go to figure out what’s going on with that situation.”

“I want to give Battalion Chief Gary Ronzheimer credit for writing this successful grant,” Fire Chief Jerry Ewers said in a press release. “We had planned for two large requests for capital outlay in the new Fiscal Year budget for the SCBA’s and a new fire engine. This grant award definitely helps us out.”

During Thursday’s council meeting, the council unanimously approved the grant award and Mayor Diana Broderson commended both Ronzheimer and Ewers.

“Great job Jerry and Gary Ronzheimer. I know the last couple times we weren’t able to get into this and we really needed it this time so great job,” she said.

Hartman said they’re fortunate to receive the grant.

“Again going back to local governments, we don’t have much money laying around and with COVID there are a lot of things that have been pushed off or put on hold and you know this is $260,000 coming to the City of Muscatine that they’re not going to have to spend so hopefully that money can be used in other areas so that’s something we’re very proud of,” Hartman said.

With the new equipment on the way, they’re looking forward to continuing to serve the community.

“We need to make sure that our firefighters are safe and to do that on a consistent basis we have to have good quality equipment that’s always going to work for us,” he said.

The department had budgeted $212,500 to replace 20 of the 42 SCBA’s with the other half to be included in the 2021/2022 budget if grants weren’t available. The city’s 10% local match will be funded from the city’s general fund.

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