Grant to aid in purchase of new town ladder truck

The Woodstock Fire Department has received an $857,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. The money will go towards the purchasing of a new ladder truck, to be housed in Woodstock and used throughout Shenandoah County.

Zach Hottel, firefighter and secretary for the Woodstock Fire Department explained the need for the new apparatus, which will replace the department’s current truck, a secondhand 1991 Pierce 105 model.

“The new truck is really going to give us the ability to get to incidents much faster and safer,” Hottel said. “We had a lot of mechanical issues with the old truck because of its age. It’s going to give us the ability to help the community a lot more. It’s a lot more reliable.”

The variety of apparatus the department is replacing is an integral part of its operation, said Hottel.

“For about 30 or 35 years now, we’ve operated a ladder truck,” he said. “It’s one of three in the county. It’s dispatched on all building fires and things like HAZMAT incidents. It’s a very busy apparatus. It runs about 200 calls a year.”

Woodstock is home to one of three of the county’s ladder trucks, the other two of which reside in Strasburg and New Market. The three work in unison to provide the best service possible throughout the county.

“We have an automatic aid agreement with the other fire departments in Shenandoah County,” Hottel said. “Whenever there’s a structure fire, inside hazmat leak, anything like that, a ladder truck is automatically sent.”

Hottel said that the grant secured by the department is particularly competitive and that Woodstock was able to beat out nearly 3,000 departments that also applied. He also said that it was rare to receive a grant so large, as the money secured for the truck is a significant percentage of the program’s funds. The Woodstock Fire Department applied for the grant in December of 2015.

As stipulated in the grant, the Woodstock Fire Department will be required to provide roughly $47,000 in matching funds in addition to paying for training programs and physicals for those who will be using it.

“In order to get the grant, we have to meet certain federal standards,” said Hottel. “(That includes) training and regular physicals to those who will be driving the apparatus. We will be giving an annual training course over the next five years, altogether which (including matching funds) comes to around $120,000.”

All of the fire department’s budget is from donations, and Hottel said that while they can shuffle things around to fund what is required, they hope to collect as much of the costs as possible in the form of new public donations.

“I’m very confident we’ll be able to raise the necessary funds,” he said. “We have our annual budget that we can take this from if necessary… but we’re hoping the community will step up and help us with this matching portion.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com