ALLAGASH — A small town of just over 200 people is getting over half a million dollars in federal funding to replace their current fire truck with newer equipment.
U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, announced on Friday that Allagash would get nearly $527,000 in grant funding to help the department get a truck with a 1,500-gallon water capacity. The truck will replace the department’s 1975 GMC gasoline pumper, which has half the water capacity at 750 gallons.
The Maine senators in February wrote a joint letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency supporting the town’s grant request, which also detailed some of their unique hardships. Collins and King wrote that while the town only has about 230 permanent residents, it has between 6,000 and 8,000 temporary residents who come for recreational activities.
The town’s volunteer fire department has 12 members who serve Allagash and four surrounding townships. The department’s response area is 134 square miles or, as Allagash Fire Chief Mike Cushing puts it, equal to the size of Atlanta.
“This new pumper engine will be custom built for our department,” Cushing said. “It will come fully-loaded with equipment. And it will take about one to two years to be delivered.”
The department also uses a 1993 International diesel fire truck with a 1,000 gallon tank. They also recently acquired a used military vehicle from the Maine Forest Service Government Surplus Equipment Program. The vehicle carries 400 gallons of water and is used for wildland response.
The senators urged FEMA to consider Allagash because its annual fire department budget of $10,500 is not enough to update its aging equipment, making outside funding essential to ensure public safety for residents and visitors, the two senators wrote.The grant was funded by FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program, which helps fire departments get critically-needed resources.