RACINE — The Racine Volunteer Fire Department has been approved for a $300,000 loan to assist with the purchase of a new pumper truck for the department.
On Friday, Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Bill Spurgeon presented a $300,000 check to Racine Volunteer Fire Department Captain David Neigler and Firefighter/Council President Ian Wise to represent the money awarded through the Small Government Fire Department Services Revolving Loan Program.
The money is not a grant, but a no-interest loan which must be paid back by the department/village.
The revolving loan program was created by the Ohio General Assembly to assist local governments in funding certain major expenses for fire departments, including firefighting, rescue or EMS equipment.
The new pumper truck, custom designed for fire departments by the manufacturer, was ordered last week and will cost approximately $511,000. In addition to the $300,000 loan, the department is working with Home National Bank for an additional loan, as well as utilizing funds they have saved up for the purchase from fundraisers and activities.
The new truck, which takes around one year to build, will replace the current 1985 pumper truck which is used by the department.
Spurgeon also spoke with the firefighters about the needs of the department, beyond the equipment.
Neigler and Wise explained that there is a need for volunteers, with the average age of the current volunteers being around 55 years old.
Spurgeon said that the Fire Marshal’s Office is working to offer reimbursements for training programs which are required for the firefighters. He noted that the need for firefighters is a concern in many areas of the state, even with some of the paid departments in other areas.
He encouraged the involvement of youth in the schools to drive interest and enthusiasm for the fire departments as a possible way to recruit new volunteers.
The new truck is expected to be finished around this time next year.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.