Victorville, Calif., Fire Department Gets Grant from FEMA

Victorville Fire Department's grant of $310,633 will provide resources to the department to assist with its operations and safety. Planned purchases include thermal imaging units and additional fire hoses.

by Rene Ray De La Cruz, Daily Press, Victorville, Calif. / September 16, 2019
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(TNS) — Rep. Paul Cook announced Thursday that the city's new fire department has received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Victorville Fire Department's grant of $310,633 will provide resources to the department to assist with its operations and safety, Cook's office reported.

The grant will be used by the department to purchase thermal imaging units, testing and calibration, air filling stations for self-contained breathing apparatus, additional fire hoses and other vital tooling for engines.

"I'm pleased to announce that our first responders in Victorville have received this critical grant funding," said Cook, in a written statement. "This money will provide much-needed resources to the fire department that will modernize our fire trucks with life-saving enhancements, keeping our firefighters safe and prepared to protect the community."

Mayor Gloria Garcia said the grant was applied for after the municipality broke with San Bernardino County Fire, which previously provided fire protection services to the city.

"The grant money will be used to replace unusable or non-working equipment left by the county," Garcia said. "It will also help pay for the replacement of medicine and supplies that were expired."

A report presented to the City Council in June highlighted the damaged and missing equipment and alleged the county overcharged the city for fire prevention services that weren't rendered, the Daily Press previously reported. Staff estimated the fiscal impact of the issues to cost more than $400,000.

In March, the city officially ended an 11-year contract with the county, which revived the old VFD. The City Council made the decision to cut ties with the county in order to cut costs and tighten ties between residents and emergency responders.

The new department started with 58 fully trained and sworn employees, in addition to an administrative position and emergency medical services coordinator.

Each firefighter/paramedic has at least four years of prior experience, with higher positions such as engineers and captains all having at least eight to 10 years, Fire Chief Greg Benson told the Daily Press in an earlier interview.

Benson added that service levels will be the same as under the county, with four stations fully staffed and 18 firefighters on-call at any one time.

Deputy City Manager George Harris II projects the city's in-house fire department will save the city of Victorville about $1 million per year.

The federal grant is part of FEMA's Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. The primary goal of AFG is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and non-affiliated emergency medical service organizations.

Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources necessary for protecting the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.

Reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com, Instagram@renegadereporter, Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.

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