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EMS Grants News and Articles
Date last updated: Friday, July 30, 10:07 PST
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NM mayor wants to buy fire equipment with firehouse grant
By Abigail R. Ortiz
The Albuquerque Journal
WEST CENTRAL, N.M. — Mayor Richard Berry is asking that $1 million in stimulus money be used to buy 167 air packs or two fire trucks instead of building a new West Central fire station.
The city is planning to build Fire Station 7 with other funds.
The city had applied for the $1 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to build the firehouse at Central and 57th, but the state and city weren't able to finish plans for the firehouse by the grant deadline.
Berry instead asked the state on Wednesday to approve the money for air packs — self-contained breathing equipment — or two pumper trucks to keep the equipment current and ensure firefighters' safety.
"We just want to make sure that we are being clear that we certainly want these dollars to stay in Albuquerque for public safety needs," he said. "This will be an appropriate use and go a long way to protect our heroes and fire department and city."
Finding money to replace existing firefighting truck fleets and equipment has been getting harder with the struggling economy, said James Breen, city fire chief.
He said the department's air packs "are out of warranty, and it's becoming more expensive to maintain them. We are getting to the point where it would be cheaper to replace them than repair them."
The 167 air packs would be enough to equip every truck in the city, Breen said. The air packs now in use are about 6 years old, and the department is behind in replacing them, he said.
Alternately, the money could be used to buy two fire trucks, Breen said. The department already is getting enough money from the city for four new trucks, but it still needs two more.
"It will make our fleet that much more reliable and make sure we can reliably respond to 911 service calls," he said.
The air packs and fire trucks would be distributed to fire stations citywide, depending on need, said T.J. Wilham, Albuquerque public safety spokesman. Officials haven't decided yet which fire stations would receive the equipment.
As for the new West Side station, about $1.5 million will come from various funding sources, and another $1 million will be redirected from the red light camera fund, Breen said. The city hopes to get the remaining $1 million New Mexico Finance Authority loan.
The station would replace the existing No. 7, which is 10 blocks away.
"There isn't a strong public safety presence and it will be a much needed facility on that side of town," Breen said.
Copyright 2010 Albuquerque Journal
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