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U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell announced that the City of Taylor Fire Department will receive a $318,182 vehicle acquisition grant through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program. The grant will allow Taylor to continue to update and improve its fire department fleet.
"We are very happy to receive this AFG grant and thankful for Rep. Dingell's efforts in this area,” said Mayor Rick Sollars. “We are constantly looking at options to make our fire department fleet better.”
Fire Chief Stephen Portis and Deputy Chief Stan Pochron worked on the AFG grant application with the City’s administration. The grant comes with a 10-percent City match, all of which will have to be approved by City Council.
Thanks to an ever-improving financial condition, the City of Taylor has been able to replace its entire Fire Department fleet over a four-year period, something that the mayor would have never thought possible when he took office in 2013. While budget cuts gained headlines and severely cut fire staffing from 2011-2013, lost in much of that controversy was the ongoing problems with the department’s equipment. Over the past four years, administration, staffing and equipment have become stabilized in the department.
“Back then, I would have never thought that it was possible to get to the position we are now in,” Mayor Sollars said. “We’ve essentially replaced the entire fire fleet in less than four years. We have new engines, new ambulances and two Chevy Tahoes.”
As the City focused on this AFG grant, Mayor Sollars said that part of the plan moving forward will be to donate one of the department’s old trucks to the Michigan Institute for Public Safety and Education (MIPSE) program at Wayne County Community College’s Downriver District. WCCCD is one of Taylor’s strongest partners in the community.
“This will work out very well for all involved,” Mayor Sollars said.
U.S. Rep. Dingell, who was recently in Taylor for a community walk and question-and-answer forum at the farmer’s market, was very happy to announce the grant.
“Our firefighters put their lives on the line every day to keep Michigan residents safe,” Dingell said. “This grant will ensure Taylor firefighters have up-to-date equipment that will allow them to safely do their jobs protecting our communities.”
Likewise, Chief Portis was glad to see the application accepted because he knows the department will put the funds to good use.
"I am very excited, first and foremost, for the AFG grant,” he said. “We have applied for several in the past, but this was the first for vehicle acquisition, which we greatly need. This grant will help out immensely for our city operations for firefighting.”
The AFG grant was the second piece of good news for Taylor Fire over the past week. On Tuesday, Beaumont donated $24,000 for three high-tech heart monitors, which will be used in as part of Taylor’s new City-run emergency transport services, which will start in mid-August or September. Taylor is waiting on two brand new ambulances to arrive, and a third is being rehabilitated. One ambulance will be stationed at each of the three Taylor Fire stations in the community.
With Taylor Fire has been ALS-certified for the past four years and responds to medical emergencies, HealthLink (and later Beaumont) had been its emergency transportation carrier. Earlier this year, Mayor Sollars and Taylor Fire put together a plan to re-establish the services, which was unanimously approved by City Council.
The AFG program awards grants directly to fire departments and EMS organizations that are unaffiliated with a hospital to enhance their response capabilities and to more effectively protect the health and safety of the public and emergency response personnel with respect to fire and all other hazards.