Everyone is looking for a bargain. Whether it’s a deal on breakfast cereal or a few cents off on a gallon of gas people are always looking for the best deal.
USDA Rural Development was able to give the town of Fremont what amounted to almost a buy-one-get-one deal when they decided it was time to purchase new fire trucks.
In 2018 the town was spending upwards of $40 thousand a year on maintaining its fleet of firetrucks, according to Fremont Fire Chief Jeff Brooks who as been with the department since 2008 and its chief since 2010.
The Fremont Fire Department was in dire need to have their equipment at the ready as they cover a 24 sq. mile area, which includes the town of Fremont and Northern Wayne County.
This area estimates a population of approximately 3,200 residents.
Fremont’s fire department averages 120 calls a year with one third of them assisting neighboring towns.
Their trucks not being 100 percent capable was not only effecting Fremont’s safety but the surrounding area as well.
Brooks and the senior officers of the department realized their money could be spent on the purchase of more up-to-date equipment that could better serve the community instead of spending thousands of dollars a year to maintain dated equipment.
“We were familiar with USDA and the work the great work they had done in Fremont with our police department and the purchase of new patrol vehicles for them,” said Brooks. “So, we reached out and spoke with Kim Daniels and she was an immediate blessing to us.”
Daniels is the USDA RD Area Specialist who covers the Down East and Crystal Coast parts of North Carolina. She reviews financial data, organizational documents, develops loans and grants based on financial needs of the community applying for assistance.
After reviewing the application and data submitted to Rural Development, she had some great news to share with the fire department.
According to Government Information Website, the median household income of the applying town must be less than 70 percent of the state non-metropolitan median household income.
With the state non metro income being $45,444 and Fremont’s income being $30,156 and population less than 10,000 they qualified for a 55 percent grant.
“Since the town was 55 percent grant eligible, I suggested they take advantage of disaster grant funds available and go ahead and purchase the second truck that they desperately needed,” said Daniels.
Without the available grant Fremont would still be spending money on truck repairs every year.
After all the paperwork was submitted and the numbers were crunched, Fremont received a $285 thousand loan and $349 thousand grant to purchase two new pumper tanker trucks.
The need for the new trucks was welcomed by the city counsel when the need was brought to them.
“The trucks they wanted to replace were over 30 years old,” said Fremont Alderwoman Beatrice Jones. “We were able buy two beauties for the town.”
Since receiving the trucks, the local fire fighters have gone through rigorous training to become familiar with their systems.
“It took us about two months to get them in service and get the equipment moved over,” said Brooks. “We won’t put equipment in service until people have been trained on it.”
Training included learning electronic water pump procedures on the new trucks replacing antiquated manual systems on their previous trucks.
The new pumper trucks each have a 1,900-gallon water capacity. This doubles the size of the previous two trucks that carried 750 and 1,200 gallons.
The new trucks are more efficient for the fire fighters with their onboard generators and lighting systems. This can reduce the need for a separate utility truck that often will carry these items.
“These new trucks reduce the need for additional trucks needed at a scene,” said Brooks.
This reduces the man-power needed when the fire department is called.
If a call goes out during working hours at times they are lucky to get two to three people of their 34-man crew to show up to their all-volunteer station. Having the most effectual load out of gear on the trucks is essential.
The local population is glad to see these new trucks out in the streets. Knowing that these new trucks are out there gives them a greater sense of protection, according to Jones.
Fremont is selling their decommissioned trucks and will use that money to pay toward their new vehicles.
The Fremont Fire Department is hoping to continue their relationship with USDA RD in the future with the construction of a new fire house that is better suited toward the needs of their growing community.
“The USDA is a great partnership for not only fire departments but other non-profit organizations,” said Brooks. “If you reach to them they are there.”