It was announced this week that the Cherokee Fire Department has been awarded $219,643 in an AFG (Assistance to Firefighters) Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for vehicle acquisition.
The CFD will be able to use these federal funds to help finance a proposed new 3,500 gallon tanker truck that would replace the department's existing 1,500 gallon tanker.
Cherokee's award is one of 1,272 granted by FEMA throughout the U.S., including 45 in the state of Iowa.
The CFD will now put the proposed tanker up for bids to decide if a new truck wll be purchased with the funds, or one will be custom built.
The proposed new tanker - called a "water tender" in official government circles - would have a 3,500 gallon capacity with the capability to pump 500 gallons per minute.
The new tandem axle tanker will replace the existing 1,500 gallon tanker, which will be returned to the Cherokee County Rural Fire Association. The RFA helps fund the CFD to service rural areas and would probably sell the old tanker and use the funds to continue to support the CFD in the future. The old truck was originally purchased with funds from the late Alan Bushlow Estate.
The CFD must generate 5-percent matching funds - about $11,000 - for the new water tender that is estimated to cost $231,000.
Hank Hayes, CFD Secretary, said the effort will be made to purchase the new truck and chassis locally.
Hayes said the CFD and City worked together on the successful grant application that was filed in May. The grant was approved by FEMA and the City was notified last week.
"We had to meet certain criteria and, thankfuly, we were able to accomplish that," said Hayes. "This is great news for the City, the fire department, and to the RFA because that is where it will be needed most. And it won't cost the City a penny."
Hayes and CFD's Roger Frisbie also worked on grant applications for the department's recently purchased $225,000 equipment/personnel truck now in service. However, those grants were not successful. The City has issued General Obligation Bonds to pay for that truck, along with on-going improvements to the Community Center.
"The FEMA focus at this time appears to be on water tenders for rural areas," added Hayes. "We're very fortunate to have the grant approved for the new vehicle."
After bids are let and approved, it is expected to take three to four months for the new truck to arrive, according to a CFD spokesman.
(Editor's note: Staff writer Dan Whitney also contributed to this article.)