Firefighters receive $81,000 in grants
Three southern Leavenworth County fire departments have been awarded federal grants totalling more than $81,000.
The departments Tonganoxie city, Tonganoxie township and Reno township received the awards through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's U.S. Fire Administration, under the Assistance to Firefighters grant program.
The city of Tonganoxie received the largest grant, for $49,470.
"We're extremely, extremely happy," said David Bennett, deputy chief and training officer.
That money will be used to purchase a variety of equipment, including fire coats, pants and helmets; defibrillators; and natural gas and carbon monoxide detectors, Bennett said.
The department also will purchase communication equipment, including radios so firefighters who are inside structures can communicate with one another, as well pagers and portable radios.
The department also plans to buy about $12,500 worth of hoses and nozzles.
"We're starting to talk to people already," Bennett said. "The phone's been ringing off the wall from vendors all over the area and all over the country, really."
Bennett said the city will purchase the equipment and will be reimbursed by FEMA.
"We're going to get the best prices we can and stretch the money as far as we can," he said.
Bennett credited fire department Capt. Brady Mikijanis with the city's success in the grant program.
"He was the driving force," Bennett said. "He pretty much wrote the grant application, and he's been dealing with FEMA. They called us a couple of weeks ago and asked us a list of questions. He did a remarkable job on it, and we're really proud of him."
Nationwide, about $350 million has been allocated to fire departments through the program. Requests totaling nearly $2.2 billion were received.
"To get one of these grants is remarkable," Bennett said. "There were over 19,000 departments across the United States that applied this year. It is a big, big deal."
Reno Township firefighters will use their $20,110 for firefighters' pants, coats and helmets, as well as breathing apparatus, according to Chief Richard Ogden.
"We need it," he said.
Tonganoxie Township also received $11,513 through the grant program.