By Tanna Friday
For the Tribune
The Argo Fire Department has been awarded a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant from FEMA for $324,597.
According to FEMA’s website, the SAFER grant “was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, ‘front-line’ firefighters available in their communities.”
“This grant allows us to fill the voids in the staffing, through the volunteer staff, to meet the challenges of the fire service in the City of Argo,” Fire Chief Mike Platts said. “Without it, we would not be able to meet those demands and lives would be lost.”
The Argo Fire Department will use the funds to hire a full-time recruitment and retention coordinator; develop a website and advertising program; pay for physicals; provide new fire personal protective equipment for volunteers; and provide tuition assistance for volunteers.
Platts contributes the growth and success of Argo’s Fire Department with the awarding of grants, the dedication of the city council and the fellow firefighters in Argo who have helped push the department.
“With a department our size, we have to think outside the box,” Platts said. “When you think outside the box, you come up with more creative ways to make this kind of thing happen, such as this grant — such as being paid volunteer and paid fire department. We are a combination department, whereas a lot of departments are either all volunteer or all paid. We are able to meet that gap to provide services mandated by the citizens of Argo.”
Platts added that Argo’s Fire Department is unique to other fire departments in the area.
“I like to say that we are setting the pace on standards,” Platts said. “We have a Class 2 ISO rating.”
A fire rating is determined by the Insurance Services Organization, which evaluates the current capabilities of a Fire Department. The ISO rating is based on a scale of 1-10 (1 being the best) and assigned to all fire agencies in the State of Alabama. It is used to determine your fire insurance rates. Currently, the City of Argo has an insurance rating of two.
“We also provide cardiac advance life support and have a medic on staff that is available 24/7,” Platts adds.
Argo is seeking to hire up to ten volunteer firefighters. “We have a pretty stringent application process,” says Platts. “You go through an interview, background check and a series of questions, such as ‘Why you want to be here?’ Things like that.”
Platts encourages those who are interested in volunteering with the Argo Fire Department or other volunteer fire departments in surrounding areas, to contact him for more information at (205) 965-5521.