Dexter lands grant

Published 10:56 am Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Dexter Volunteer Fire Department has received a $152,000 grant to purchase a new tanker/pumper fire truck.

The department met Tuesday night to discuss the good news.

According to Fire Chief Randy Stephenson, “I’m ecstatic.”

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“You hear of big cities’ departments who have many more serious fire emergencies than a rural Minnesota volunteer departments getting big grants, but this is something new for us,” Stephenson said. “This will be a good addition for the department, and it will save the taxpayers a lot of money.”

The new truck will replace an old vehicle in the department.

Its pumper will have a 500-gallon capacity, and the tanker will carry 2,000 gallons of water.

The last time the department added a new vehicle to its fleet of firefighting equipment was 1999.

A year ago, the Dexter firefighters received an $80,000 grant to purchase new firefighting gear.

The Dexter department’s good fortune is surpassed in Mower County only by the Brownsdale Volunteer Fire Department, which received a $250,000 grant to upgrade its department and firefighting equipment two years ago.

Where did the money come from? Answer: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The primary goal of the department’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical services organizations.

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

Stephenson, who is also Dexter’s mayor, said the department has 25 volunteers, serving a community of 333 residents (2000 census) and Dexter Township, while also rendering mutual aid to neighboring departments.

The Dexter department — housed in a relatively new Dexter Township Hall in the city of Dexter — retained the services of a grant writer in Texas, according to the fire chief. The same grant writer served the department well when he successfully wrote the first Homeland Security grant for an upgrade of firefighting gear.

That process began early in 2008.

The grant will be supplemented by $8,000 in Dexter Township funds.

The fire chief was confident the $160,000 total will be enough to purchase a new tanker/pumper truck for the department.

The department also applied for funds two years ago for an air compressor to replace a model supplying air to the firefighters’ breathing apparatus equipment.

Now, Stephenson is hopeful a new grant for Homeland Security monies can be written for the air compressor, during the next funding cycle.

“This is very good news for the Dexter Fire Department,” Stephenson said of the $152,000 grant. “It takes the burden off the township to fund the truck’s replacement and will give the department a new vehicle to put into service later this year.”