The Western District Fire Department in Beech Grove received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to purchase a new fire truck, replacing the department’s current more than 40-year-old truck.

The department was notified of the FEMA award on Tuesday, Sept. 1, amounting in $255,238. Western District volunteer Joey Tapp said the process to apply for the grant was a long one. He said the department teamed up with the Green River Area Development District in February to seek grant options to fund a new truck, which Tapp said was desperately needed.

He said the current truck is a tanker that is more than 40 years old and was originally an old milk truck. He said the truck is no longer reliable to help put out fires in the community.

“With the 40-year-old truck, it would often break down and this truck … the last fire, it caught fire itself. I’m not kidding,” Tapp said. “They (the fire department) have mostly older equipment. This is something that will just update the response.”

The new truck, according to Tapp, will likely be a 3,000 gallon tanker truck capable of pumping around 1,000 gallons per minute. A tanker truck, he said, is a truck capable of transporting its own water, which is necessary in the rural area of Beech Grove because of limited access to fire hydrants.

With a new tanker truck, Tapp said it will not only provide a more reliable means of putting out fires and getting to sites, but it will also hopefully lower the department’s Insurance Services Office, or ISO ratings. The rating, according to Tapp, scores fire departments on how well-equipped they are to provide necessary services to communities. The ISO rating also affects homeowners insurance rates, he said.

“It’s an insurance rating that people, when you have your home-owner’s insurance, you pay based on this fire protection rate, and that’s what we’re always trying to improve, is getting that rating down and this truck will hopefully improve getting the rating down,” he said.

Tapp said the department hopes to have access to the funds within 30-60 days. In the meantime, however, he said there will be a 30-day bidding process to receive estimates on building the new truck.

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@mcleannews.com, 270-691-7360

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