Friday, 19 July 2024

Federal grants provide new equipment for Northshore Fire

In Lucerne on Tuesday, September 15, 2009, (from left) firefighter Chrissy Pittman, Battalion Chief Pat Brown and firefighter Odell Landers showed off the new breathing apparatuses and additional air tanks that Northshore Fire Protection District purchased thanks to a $78,000 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act granted administered through the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development agency, coupled with an additional $25,000 from the district. Brown said the district has received another grant from the agency for $100,000 which will be used for a new water tender. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



LUCERNE – Northshore Fire Protection District has received two significant federal grants that will assist the agency in upgrading equipment to serve one of the state's largest fire districts.

The US Department of Agriculture Rural Development grants, totaling $178,000, will provide much-needed new equipment for the district – from new air tanks and breathing apparatus to increase firefighter safety to a new water tender.

Northshore Battalion Chief Pat Brown called the grants a “major coup.”

He said the district applied for the grants in April, and received notice on June 30 that they had received the $100,000 grant for the water tender and on July 6 that they received the $78,000 grant for the breathing apparatus.

The fire districts along the Northshore consolidated into one agency, Northshore Fire Protection District, in a three-year process completed in November of 2006, said Chief Jim Robbins.

The result is a small rural agency with 72 volunteers and 17 paid staff – some of them part-time – that covers 350 square miles or about 228,300 acres, much of it wildland. It's the third largest fire district in California, Robbins said.

Northshore Fire has an annual budget of about $2.3 million, Robbins said. Brown said the district usually receives about two to three grants a year.

“It's incredible the amount of land they cover,” said Sarah Pursley, spokesperson for USDA Rural Development's California office.

Because of the district's size, Brown added, “We're going a lot of places now.”

That, of course, puts wear and tear on the district's equipment, which the grant will help address.

On Tuesday morning, Brown, Robbins, and firefighters Odell Landers and Chrissy Pittman were busy unpacking 20 new air packs and 20 additional new lightweight air tanks for responding to structure fires.

Each tank lasts 30 minutes and weighs about 5 pounds, less than the older aluminum and steel models. Brown said the newer tanks have a lifespan of about 15 years.

The breathing apparatus are funded from a $78,000 grant that came through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), funds which the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development is administering through its current programs, said Pursley.

Brown said the fire district supplemented that amount with about another $25,000 to round out the purchase.

Pursley said ARRA has provided a “significant” amount of additional funds to help rural communities.

“We've really been able to reach out to a lot of communities that have good projects, that have strong needs,” but for one reason or wouldn't have been funded, Pursley said.

The second, grant for $100,000 that will fund the water tender comes through USDA Rural Development's Economic Impact Initiative Grant program, administered through its Community Facilities Program, Pursley said.

She said eligible communities have to have a “not employed” rate of 19.5 percent or higher – a number which she said is larger than the unemployment rate – and no more than 20,000 residents.

The grants cover projects such as first responders – like Northshore Fire – as well as libraries and community facilities, she said.

Those grants are available on an ongoing, year-round basis, Pursley added.

Brown said Northshore Fire is providing an additional $56,000 that, paired with the $100,000 grant, will pay for the new water tender, set to arrive this December.

Fouts Brothers Fire Equipment of Smyrna, Georgia, which has built the agency's attack engines – small engines used for wildland fires – is building the new water tender, said Brown.

The tenders usually last about 20 years, said Brown, but Northshore Fire has water tenders five to 10 years older than that still in use.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at .



A closeup of the new breathing apparatus that Northshore Fire Protection Districts officials were busy unpacking on Tuesday, September 15, 2009, at the district's Lucerne headquarters. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

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