ROGUE RIVER, Ore. – A grant program in Oregon has been helping first-responders across the state get access to the equipment they need to save lives during a disaster.
The State Preparedness and Incident Response Equipment grant, or SPIRE for short, was started in 2017 with $5 million. This year, the program will receive $10 million to continue its mission.
"Through some state funding, it allows us to procure a wide variety of equipment that’s really vital to local first response," said Andrew Phelps, director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.
In the most recent disbursement, six fire departments were awarded grants for high-axle, all-terrain vehicles.
Evans Valley Fire District was among those six departments. Chief Travis Crume said the design of the trucks will allow them to respond to the gamut of severe weather and other natural disasters that could be experienced in southwestern Oregon – flooding rains, fires and even earthquakes.
"The idea behind it is it’s going to help us prepare and respond to natural disasters, primarily, but we’re also going to use it for everyday responses," Crume said.
In addition to vehicles, the grant has also included equipment like generators and rescue boats. All of it is geared toward helping rescuers respond to natural disasters.
"We know that these resources and this equipment will save lives," Phelps said.
Crume said the awarded vehicle helps him feel better about his department’s ability to meet the need when disaster strikes.
"This truck is going to allow us to respond to situations that we just couldn’t before," Crume said.
The 2022-2023 grant application window will be open from March 1 to June 1 to rescue departments in Oregon. More information can be found at Oregon.gov/oem.