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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2007
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Falkville VFD lands $109,000 federal grant
Department must raise
$40,000 in matching funds

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com 340-2438

FALKVILLE — The Falkville Volunteer Fire Department is getting a federal grant of more than $109,000.

But to purchase all of the equipment it requested, Fire Chief Eric Sawyer said, firefighters must raise $40,000.

"That's because the previous (Fire Department) administration did not calculate the costs correctly," Sawyer said, "leaving us stuck between a rock and a hard place. We have to have a 5 percent match. We have one year to make the purchases."

From Homeland Security

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, announced Thursday that the Department of Homeland Security will release $109,459 to Falkville from an Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program fund, which will distribute $750 million in federal assistance to firefighters nationwide this year.

Sawyer said the equipment Falkville needs includes a three-stage air compressor system for filling air packs and 13 sets of turnout gear. He said the Falkville Town Council agreed to contribute about $3,000.

Town Clerk Belinda Ealey said that during a fall work session, the council budgeted up to $12,000 for liability insurance for the Fire Department.

"The bill was between $8,000 and $9,000," Ealey said. "At that time, no one had any problems of allocating the remainder left in the line item budget toward the Fire Department grant."

Keeping down expenses

Sawyer said the department will work at keeping its expenses as low as possible to save as much matching funding as it can without borrowing. He said the department will apply some of the funds it gets each year from Morgan County ad valorem taxes toward the grant match.

"We will accept the funds. The good outweighs the bad," Sawyer said. "We'll buy the equipment and submit the invoice to Homeland Security. Once that happens, (the agency) will deposit 95 percent of it back into our account. We're getting the equipment. It will just cost us a little more."

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