The Pleasant Township Fire Department has received a $138,096 federal grant to purchase a new vehicle for fighting brush and grass fires.

The township received the funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Assistance to Firefighters Grant program.

"It's a competitive program you apply for," fire Chief Brian Taylor said. "It was put into place after 9/11 and it's designed to help fire departments obtain equipment, training or other resources they need that they may not have the finances for, or is not included in their regular budgets."

The new vehicle will make it easier for the fire department to respond to brush and grass fires that occur in remote areas of the township that are away from paved roads, Taylor said.

"If you know Pleasant Township, we have a lot of rural areas and fields in Darbydale and Harrisburg, and we have most of the Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park located within the township," he said. "It isn't uncommon for us to have to respond to brush or grass fires or to small fires in the Metro Park.

"Often those fires are in areas that our larger regular fire trucks just can't get to," Taylor said.

The department has been using a 1995 Ford F-350 pickup truck that has been retrofitted with a 250-gallon water tank and small portable pump to respond to such fires, he said.

"Pickup trucks are great for hauling things, but they really aren't made to serve as firefighting vehicles, especially when they're carrying a water tank, pump and hose," Taylor said.

Thanks to the grant, the township will purchase a custom-built brush-fire truck that will include two ground-sweep nozzles and a large front bumper that will allow the vehicle to traverse through trees and brush, he said.

"It will allow us to spray water on ditch fires and other brush fires while the vehicle is moving," Taylor said.

Firefighters also will be able to operate another large nozzle on the front of the vehicle by remote control, he said.

"A lot of brush fires are small, and our firefighters will often be able to put them out while remaining inside the vehicle," Taylor said.

"Anything that improves the safety of our residents and our personnel is a welcome addition," he said. "We're really excited and grateful to receive this grant."

The new vehicle also will improve access for rescues along waterways and on hiking trails and provide space for carrying water-rescue equipment, Taylor said.

"It's also going to help with our mutual-aid agreements with other departments," he said. "The Columbus and Jackson Township fire departments don't have vehicles like this and we will be able to respond and help them with fires that happen in the remote areas of their communities."

With notification of the grant, the department will be developing a request for proposals for truck manufacturers interested in submitting a bid, he said.

"We hope to get a bid awarded by October of this year and have the vehicle delivered about a year after that," Taylor said.

The total cost of the new vehicle is expected to be about $145,000, he said. With the grant, the township will only have to pay 5 percent of that, or about $6,900.

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