Dowagiac Fire Department receives AAA grant

DOWAGIAC — Monday morning, Dowagiac city officials, a state representative and first responders stood together as they received a check for nearly $9,000 from AAA to be used toward new equipment for the Dowagiac Fire Department.

The Dowagiac Fire Department recently received an $8,865 traffic safety grant from AAA, a nonprofit national member association and service organization in North America. The grant was used to purchase a new hydraulic pump for the fire station.

“[AAA] graciously awarded us a grant to pay for 100 percent of that new pump,” said Deputy Fire Chief Bob Smith. “We were able to replace an aging piece of equipment and keep our abilities and responses where we like them to be.”

Smith said the need for a new hydraulic pump came up during a training where an instructor told him that the department’s existing pump, purchased in the early 2000s, needed to be replaced as it was no longer functioning the way it the department required it to. That instructor also told Smith about the AAA Traffic Safety Grant.

Smith said that the new pump purchased with the grant is lighter and will allow firefighters to take equipment away from the truck, which will enable them to serve the public during roadside calls better.

“If a car ends up in a field or somewhere we can’t get the truck, we can take the new pump, our equipment and use our tools however far away enough we need to get from the truck,” Smith said. “That’s what makes it more efficient for us.”

Since 1993, the AAA Traffic Safety Grant program has been awarding grants for life-saving equipment throughout Michigan. Over the years, nearly $1.5 million in traffic safety equipment has been donated to various organizations in the state. This year, out of more than 80 applications, the Dowagiac Fire Department was one of nine departments and organizations that received a total of $75,000 in grant funding through the program.

AAA representative Gary Bubar said the grant was a way for AAA to give back to communities that need traffic safety equipment and a way for AAA to help ensure that roads stay safe.

“If there is an incident on the road, and we can help [responders] get done what they need to get done and out of the way, it can keep secondary accidents to a minimum,” Bubar said. “We know that is an issue. … This is a way for us to help protect our first responders out there while also protecting the drivers on the road.”

So far, Smith said the Dowagiac Fire Department had not had a call that required firefighters to use the new hydraulic pump. However, he said it was used for training and that it “works great.”

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