GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Fire Department held a demonstration Friday showing local leaders some of the demands of their job.
Called Fire Ops 101, the event is held at the department’s training facility every three or five years. Chief Brad Brown says it gives leaders a chance to see how funding is being spent and the effect of investments.
“We feel it’s important for them to truly understand the equipment and the staffing needs that we have, and then that helps us later when we go forward with different proposals to build fire stations or staff equipment in a different manner. They have a much deeper understanding of that need,” Brown said.
State Rep. Carol Glanville, D-Walker, was one of the participants.
“Some of those tools are really heavy. It’s 40 or 50 pounds and you’re trying to manipulate it and the pressure of the water coming through the hose… So it’s really eye-opening,” Glanville said.
The state budget for the new fiscal year, which started this week, contained $35 million for new buildings for GRFD. State Rep. Phil Skaggs, D-East Grand Rapids, said it will have an impact.
“We had a great opportunity with the funds that came down from the federal government to use it extremely wisely and we thought one of the wisest things we can do is around public safety,” Skaggs said.
Brown said the average age of a fire station in Grand Rapids is more than 70 years, so funding for improvement is needed.
“(The state dollars are) going to fully fund a new 12th fire station in Grand Rapids on Kendall, completely rebuild a new station at Division Avenue and then partially fund the new training center,” Brown said.
City Commissioner Kelsey Perdue, who represents the Third Ward, says the additional station will improve response times.
“Data shows that there’s been a number of years where we weren’t providing adequate service or the same service throughout the city the Third Ward, the southeast in particular,” Perdue said.