FIRE STATION Act could help local fire departments improve their facilities

WTAP Daybreak
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 7:21 PM EDT
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LITTLE HOCKING, Ohio (WTAP) - The Facilitating Investment Required for Emergency Services to All Towns in Our Nation Act or FIRE STATION Act is being introduced in the United States Congress.

If passed by Congress and signed into law, the FIRE STATION Act will create a $750 million grant program within FEMA to modify, upgrade, and construct fire and EMS department facilities nation wide.

WTAP spoke to Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Chevalier about how a program like this could help his station. Chevalier said he was glad to hear the program was under consideration. “It’s great news, because there’s a lot of improvements that you can make that would really improve the life of the paid firemen and also the volunteer departments,” he said.

Chevalier said that the price of firefighting equipment has ballooned over the past decade, hitting his and other departments hard. “A bigger proportion of the budget has to go toward apparatus” the chief said. “Everyone’s in the same boat on that, so people are finding ways to update their equipment and their facilities, and the facilities sometimes get left out.”

Chevalier highlighted one important system that the station is currently lacking. “Well, we don’t have any exhaust system to take out the diesel fumes,” he said. “That would be a good upgrade. There’s a big initiative to get the diesel exhaust fumes out of the inside of fire stations because of cancer.”

The text of the FIRE STATION Act cites upgrading fire stations with exhaust emission control systems as one possible use of funds. Others include upgrading HVAC systems and clearing mold from fire stations.

Another possible use of funding is building new living quarters for personnel at fire stations, something Chevalier said his department is already in the process of doing. “We getting ready to start a new paid EMS service and we’re in the process of getting private sleeping quarters for the employees,” he said.

Chevalier said that the station itself was built in 1970, with an addition added in the 80s. While the building is sound, it needs some work. “We’ve got roofing that’s going to need some repair and replacement, and gutters and outside things like that, but overall our fire station’s structurally sound, good shape. It just needs updated some.”

Chevalier also said the station has a backup generator that, while operational, is about 25 years old and could use an update.

If the FIRE STATION Act is signed into law, funding could become available to fix issues like those at the Little Hocking station and in other fire departments across the country.