The Bethel-Tate Fire Department has received a $136,251 firefighting grant as part of Senator Mike Dewine’s Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act.
Senator Dewine, who wrote, sponsored, and secured passage of the FIRE Act in 2000, provides competitive grants to local departments; Bethel-Tate applied for the grant in March.
“This is huge for us,” said Bethel-Tate Fire Chief Rick Stowell. “I would like to stress that this is a competitive grant; we had to show that the department needed this federal assistance.”
The Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, awards the FIRE grant through a competitive need-based process. Last year, more than 20,000 nationwide departments applied for the grant. This year, Bethel-Tate joins the more than 7,000 fire departments that the ODP is expected to award FIRE Act grants to.
Stowell, who was born and raised in Bethel and has been the fire chief for six years (28 years total in the department), said that he and the 54 Bethel-Tate firefighters were very relieved upon receiving word of the awarded grant.
“We knew that we were eventually going to have to purchase new equipment,” he said. “If we had not received this federal assistance, the cost would have come out of our budget.”
Stowell said that the department will use the grant money – and this is the fourth grant that Bethel-Tate has received over the years – to purchase 16 full sets of firefighter turnouts (hats, gloves, suits, etc.), 22 air packs, two RIT (rapid intervention team) packs, and a rope rescue package.
“This is not a wish list of things that we would like to have,” Stowell stresses. “These are all necessary things needed to effectively operate the department.”
When purchased, the new equipment will contribute to making Bethel and the surrounding area better prepared for a fire or any emergency, Stowell said.
The Bethel-Tate Fire Department currently has two pumper trucks, one tanker truck, one rescue unit, one aerial platform, two field units, a fire boat, and a fire prevention safety trailer.
“The grant will impact the department and the residents of Bethel in many positive ways,” Stowell said Nov. 17 in the Bethel-Tate Fire Station. “It also means that we now have more than $136,000 of federal money that we will not have to use taxpayer money for, so we are all very happy about that.”
In a media release, Senator Dewine said that he was pleased to know that Bethel families and the Bethel-Tate Fire Department will benefit from this grant.
“The FIRE Act will ensure that fire departments in Ohio and elsewhere will have the resources to meet future service demands,” he said.