Tester Announces $50,000 to Equip Firefighters in Libby

(Missoula, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced today that the City of Libby will receive a $50,000 grant from the USDA to better equip local volunteer firefighters and improve public safety.

“Firefighters are often the first and sometimes only line of defense against disaster,” Tester said. “So we need to make sure they have the equipment and resources they need to stay safe and respond quickly in an emergency situation.”

Tester helped secure the loan through USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Grant program, which provides resources to help rural areas maintain and improve essential local facilities like hospitals, airports, community centers, fire departments, libraries, and food banks.

“This grant could not have come at a better time,” said Tom Wood, Chief of the Libby Fire Department. “Our turnout gear is rapidly wearing out and getting out of date. It costs over $2,000 per firefighter to provide the gear. We have 30 members, but nowhere in our budget did we have $60,000 to complete this project. So we really want to thank Senator Tester for helping secure these funds.”

This grant will be used to replace old firefighting equipment that is currently expired or set to expire soon. The replacement equipment includes jackets and trousers for 30 volunteer firefighters and five communication masks for fighting structure fires. This new equipment will not only help ensure the personal safety of Libby’s volunteer firefighters, but will also increase public safety by improving the efficacy of Libby’s Volunteer Fire Department.

In August, the Senate unanimously passed Tester’s bipartisan bill to help rural fire departments train, equip, and outfit their firefighters with essential safety gear in order to keep firefighters safe and improve emergency response across rural Montana. The legislation is now awaiting a vote in the House.