Mineral Independent: Big grant awarded to De Borgia Fire Department

by Monte Turner

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s office announced that about $287,000 has been secured for the De Borgia Volunteer Fire Department through the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants.

The program delivers resources to local fire departments to equip and train emergency personnel, enhance efficiencies and support community resilience. The funding is available through the bipartisan “omnibus” funding package, which passed the senate in a 68-31 vote. Tester was the only member of the Montana delegation to support the legislation.

“Firefighters are on the frontlines of keeping Montanans safe, and we cannot leave towns that rely on volunteer departments behind. It’s critical that the volunteers in Mineral County have the resources they need to protect their community,” Tester stated. “The AFG program delivers essential funding to the De Borgia Volunteer Fire Department and departments across Montana in order to ensure they have the necessary tools and training to react to any emergency, and I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues to make it happen. I’ll continue to support Montana’s brave firefighters, and I know the De Borgia Volunteer Fire Department will put these resources to good use.”

Frank Magee, board chair for West End Fire Department, explained that the funding is a regional grant.

“We worked with St. Regis (Volunteer Fire Department) to get new turnout gear and SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) units,” he said. “We were awarded 31 sets of turnouts and 25 SCBA units. The total amount was $302,200. I was contacted by Tester’s office.”

This was a combined effort between both departments and at the time Mike Richter was the fire chief for the Westend.

Magee said, “To gather all the data required for the grant Jerry (Dockter), Kat (Kittridge), Mike and Donna (Richter), Scotty (Norman) and myself met and spent many hours going through call outs of the last three years. The awarded items will be split evenly between the two departments.”

Both department heads will agree on the purchases, making everything compatible. All the SCBA units and turnouts will be new replacing the worn-out and outdated equipment.

“We received the award letter on Sept. 9 and since then we have had many salesmen coming in doing presentations. Basically, what is left is agreeing on which company or companies we will be purchasing from.”

Both departments ponied up $7,000 as a match needed to secure the grant.

“Jerry Dockter had heard West End was going to write a grant and he approached us with a possible regional grant idea asking for new turnouts and SCBA units. This was a great idea and we had nothing to lose,” Magee said. “Because we work closely together on many callouts this will help make a stronger bond enabling a stronger relationship.”

The official announcement will be made this Saturday, Nov. 5 sometime between 5 and 8 p.m., inside the West End Fire Department in DeBorgia. The reason for the wide window to celebrate is because it will take place at the First Annual Chili Cookoff so things might be a bit confusing during the inaugural event.

“Anyone can enter,” Magee said. “Judges will be provided by West End. We’ll have free hamburgers and hotdogs to make a chili burger or chili dog. Bring your best chili and enter!. We are giving $50 and ribbon for first prize and ribbons for 2nd and 3rd.” he smiled.

Entries will be accepted anytime up to 5pm on Saturday, Nov. 5. For details, call (208) 651-7700. Magee expressed that this is a family event, and the entire department would like to celebrate the AFG with fellow firefighters and neighbors.

Big grant awarded to De Borgia Fire Department | Valley Press/Mineral Independent (vp-mi.com)