Pine River Fire Department puts new equipment into service
Congressman Tiffany attends and pledges continued support
Congressman Tom Tiffany joined the members of the Pine River Fire Department Saturday morning, Jan. 21, to help put into service vital new equipment the Department purchased. The purchase was made possible thanks to a grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG), administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The grant, part of the 2021 cycle, was awarded to Pine River on Jan. 6, 2023 and provided $208,262 in federal monies to help replace the firefighters personal protective gear, provide a new cascade system on the Department’s rescue truck, and replace 12 air packs, which firefighters use to enter burning structures. The grant also provides a pack known as an RIT pack, which is used to help rescue a firefighter who may be lost or trapped inside of a burning structure.
Pine River Chief John Uttech credits FEMA with providing major funding for equipment when the Department organized in 2005, and now, thanks to the continuous funding, the Department can stay compliant with federal mandates when it comes to gear and air packs.
Uttech also credited town resident Wendy Savage. Savage, a member of the Department’s clerical staff, is a retired grant writer from Northcentral Technical College in Wausau. It was thanks to her diligent work that the grant was approved, according to Uttech.
The equipment does come at a local cost; the Department needed to provide a 5% matching grant and also had to provide the needed funds to cover cost increases between when the grant was written and the actual purchase. “We are looking at spending around $50,000 in fundraiser money in order to facilitate the entire purchase,” Uttech said. “However, it is thanks to our generous community and the success of our annual open house and pig roast in the fall that we have that money on hand. Although those funds are now greatly depleted, this new equipment will provide the inspiration to our members to continue working to raise funds and keep our Department one of the best.”
Chief Uttech and Savage are already working on an AFG grant for battery-operated extrication equipment.
Congressman Tiffany pledged his continued support for the program and local responders.