Cheney Free Press -

By John McCallum
Managing Editor 

Council approves fire grant application

Department seeking $210,000 for new wildland fire engine to replace aging vehicle


Last updated 2/22/2021 at 9:27am

CHENEY - Fire Department officials are pursuing another engine upgrade, but this time are looking to the federal government for funding assistance.

At the Feb. 9 meeting, City Council gave approval to Fire Chief Tom Jenkins to pursue a Department of Homeland Security Fiscal Year 2020 Assistance to Firefighters Grant to apply for $210,000 to purchase a new Type 5 wildland fire engine. The grant would provide for the engine, training and equipment out fitting of the vehicle, and require Cheney to assist with a 5% - $10,500 - match towards purchase.

Jenkins said the department's current 1997-vintage wildland truck is in need of servicing, requiring about $3,000 to replace a pump that no longer functions. He also said the truck itself, while still usable, is also soon in need of major repairs.

According to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), wildland fire engines are specifically designed to utilize the "pump and roll" technique where the vehicle drives with the pump engaged while a firefighter uses a hose to apply water to fire. The NWCG has established minimum standards for types of fire engines, and a Type 5 wildland engine requires a minimum tank capacity of 400 gallons, minimum flow rate of 50 gallons per minute, minimum pressure of 100 pounds per inch and minimum hose and length amounts of 300 feet of 1.5 inch and 1 inch hose each.

During discussion, Councilman John Taves raised a point apparently brought up in Public Safety Committee about the possibility of using the 1997 truck as part of the match payment obligation, essentially a trade in. Jenkins said discussions with fire officials at other agencies have been successful with receiving the federal grant led him to believe that wasn't a good idea.

"Unless you have a decent, viable vehicle you can trade in it's not worth trading one in," Jenkins said. "But then you have to argue the other side that if you have a fair-trade vehicle then why are you asking for a new, upgraded vehicle? It's a slippery slope."

Jenkins added the 1997 vehicle is still useful to the department if modified.

Councilman Vince Barthels asked if there were other department needs that could be added to the grant, and if there was a chance that getting with another agency, such as nearby Spokane County Fire District 3, and adding any equipment needs they may have might enhance Cheney's grant chances.

"I didn't know if there was any value in maybe pulling together either resources or collaboration on this grant to maybe better position ourselves for this," Barthels said.

Jenkins replied the department has met a lot of its most pressing requests recently, such as a new main attack engine, new air packs and fire station upgrades, and didn't feel there was anything currently needed.

As for collaboration, Jenkins said that is a possibility, noting Fire District 9's purchase several years ago of a technical rescue trailer it currently shares with the county. He also added that District 3 had recently built up its engine fleet and didn't feel the need for additional purchases right now.

According to the grant's Notice of Funding Opportunity, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant is also issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Grants Program Directorate. Over $319 million is available for the project awarding of 2,000 grants this year.

John McCallum can be reached at

Author Bio

John McCallum, Managing Editor

John McCallum is an award-winning journalist who has been with the Cheney Free Press for over 20 years. He has received 10 Washington Newspaper Publisher Association awards for journalism and photography, including first place awards for Best Investigative, Best News and back-to-back awards in Best Breaking News categories. He has been serving as editor of the Spokane Valley News Herald since March 2020.

Phone: 509-235-6184
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