By Katie Dahlstrom
Acknowledging the public concern over the city’s prospective new fire boat, members of the Clinton City Council discussed the piece of equipment during their meeting Tuesday.
In August, the city was awarded a grant from the Department of Homeland Security for up to $448,000 or 75 percent of a new fire safety and rescue boat. Based on the grant funding, the boat could cost up to $600,000 with the city being responsible for 25 percent, or $150,000.
However, Fire Chief Mike Brown said the boat could actually cost less, making the 25 percent city match a smaller dollar amount.
“What we realized in talking to a lot of these dealers is what we were looking at is very high end,” Brown said. “And possibly when this goes out for bid, the cost may be much lower than the $600,000. Either way we would get 75 percent so match funds might not be $150,000.”
The fire department also is actively looking for funding from outside the city’s budget to come up with the matching funds such as partnerships with area industries that could benefit from the boat and a $75,000 grant from the Clinton County Emergency Management Commission’s grant program.
The council approved the fire department’s application for the latter Tuesday with only Ward 4 Councilman Paul Gassman dissenting and Ward 2 Councilwoman Julie Allesee absent.
The boat will replace the Clinton Fire Department’s current boat, which the city has owned for roughly a decade and offers only a fraction of the firefighting capacity the new boat will offer.
The new boat is anticipated to benefit the area by increasing the department’s capacity to protect not only citizens who live along and use the Mississippi River, but also infrastructure such as the U.S. 30, Iowa/Illinois 136, Iowa/Illinois 52 and Union Pacific Railroad bridges and the levee. It also will be used in the case of an emergency at a number of private businesses that line the Mississippi River in Clinton and surrounding areas such as Archer Daniels Midland, the Quad-City Nuclear Generating Station, 3M, Vertex Chemical Corporation and ARTCO Fleeting.
“As far as the need, I think the federal government felt there was a need when they awarded a grant of this size to us,” Brown said.
He pointed to this week’s situation in LeClaire of a boat sinking and releasing fuel into the Mississippi River, which is being cleaned in part with a grant-funded boat similar to the one Clinton is considering.
Brown also addressed the issue of training personnel to use the boat, which he said would be included in the cost of the boat. It would be expected to last 15 to 20 years and be housed at the Clinton marina. The city would be diligent in maintaining it, Brown said.
At-large Councilman John Rowland insisted the boat would be critical to Clinton, based on its position along the Mississippi and the security risks that seem endemic of the time.
“We are a river community and we have river problems,” Rowland said. “Sooner or later it’s a fact of life that we’ll have more of these river problems here in Clinton.”
The boat would be another way for the city to respond to any situation that happened along the river and protect the citizens, he added.
Further adding to the department’s resources, the city granted Brown permission to pursue an emergency management grant to purchase an ATV, as well.
“We’ve had some incidents up at Eagle Point Park where it would certainly have benefited us to have the ability to get there,” Brown said.
The grant would be a 75 percent match for the roughly $15,000 cost, leaving the fire department to again look for the $3,200 match from outside sources.
The fire department also was given the green light on an Assistance to Firefighters grant application to replace its self-contained breathing apparatus. The grant would cover a majority of the $290,000 project with the city being required to contribute $29,000, which has been allocated in this year’s budget.