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Van Buren Fire Grant Causes Concern Among Residents

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Van Buren Fire Grant Causes Concern Among Residents

Some Van Buren County residents are against the county applying for a $420,000 Community Development Block Grant for fire departments.

County Commissioner and Piney Volunteer Fire Department Lieutenant William Maxwell said Van Buren County sits near the bottom of ISO ratings. Maxwell said the issue is getting people who oppose this grant to understand what equipment is needed, and why they need it before it starts failing.

“It appeared to me that they were just looking to get some questions answered,” Maxwell said. “That I wouldn’t say we didn’t necessarily have the answers to, but it would be willingness to understand our answers.”

Maxwell said the volunteer fire departments have created an itemized list of needs they will give to the county. Maxwell said it is his expectation that the county will approve this grant in January because the county does not qualify for its other uses.

“Honestly, without extensive knowledge of the business, some of those items listed, folks are not going to understand what those are,” Maxwell said. “We use a positive pressure ventilation fan just for instance. Those things cost like $4,000 to $5,000 dollars but it’s a lot more than just a fan.”

Maxwell said the county averages an eight to 10 on the ISO rating. He said a big issue is that a lot of equipment is not interchangeable between departments. However, he said equipment changes alone will only get the county to slightly below average for its ISO rating.

“We would like to lower that, somewhere in the six to seven range,” Maxwell said. “Without a great expense on water supply, it’s gonna be difficult to go below that six or seven range.”

ISO, or an Insurance Services Office rating calculates how well-equipped fire departments are to put out fires in that community. An ISO rating is based on a one to ten scale, with ten being the worst and one being the best.

Van Buren County would have to provide a $50,000 dollar match on the CDBG Grant.


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