WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Waterville and Denmark fire departments were granted more than half a million dollars Wednesday through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant.
The Department of Homeland Security awarded the Waterville Fire Department $332,500. The Denmark Fire Department will receive $200,925. Denmark is in Oxford County.
“We’ve been waiting two years for that, so we’re very happy,” said Waterville and Winslow Fire Chief David LaFountain.
LaFountain said Waterville will use the money to purchase a fire engine. The city has been short of a fire engine after it got rid of a truck that constantly needed repairs. That cut Waterville down to two engines.
“We’ve been leaning on Winslow pretty heavily,” said LaFountain. “Now we can provide better mutual aid coverage to our surrounding communities.”
The truck hasn’t been ordered yet. LaFountain said the new engine should cost around $400,000, so the grant will cover most of the cost.
“We took into consideration that if we asked for a lower amount [for the grant], our chances of success will be greater, and that is the case. We will be fiscally responsible when we order a truck. It will be great to have that addition back to our firehouse,” said LaFountain.
Denmark will also use its grant money to purchase a vehicle.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Bangor, praised the Department of Homeland Security for the grants.
“The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is an extremely critical source of funds for our local fire and rescue personnel,” said Collins, who is the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “These funds have been invaluable to fire departments throughout the nation and here in Maine.”
“Our firefighters and their communities deserve the best equipment and facilities available,” said Michaud. “These investments will enhance the capabilities of our first responders and help keep residents of Waterville and Denmark safe.”
Since the program was created, Maine fire departments have been awarded more than $54 million to help purchase new, used or refurbished vehicles, and to obtain equipment for firefighting, interoperable communications, chemical detection and other purposes essential to fire responders.