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City seeking firefighting grant
Ceres Fire Department is in need of new equipment which the city budget has not been able to afford. A grant is being sought to help purchase hoses and vehicle extrication equipment. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/ Courier file photo

The Ceres Fire Department is joining the Modesto Fire Department and the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District in applying for a Regional Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) to replace fire hose and vehicle extrication equipment.

Modesto and Stanislaus Consolidated are hoping to use their portion of grant funds to buy new portable, mobile and base station radios for all fire apparatus and stations.

According to a report written by Ceres Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Serpa, the fire radio system in the county is "failing at an alarming rate."

"The current system is being supplemented with parts that have been discarded by the Stanislaus County Sheriff Department," Serpa's report to the council said. "We have been without our primary command channel (Command 3) for over a year, the return of this vital channel is unknown."

Additionally, the county dispatch channel and a backup command channel, is also failing. Once the radios have been purchased, the departments can switch to the 800MHz trunked radio system.

The agencies, if awarded the grant, will be required to pay a 10 percent local match.

Modesto is seeking $890,000, Stanislaus Consolidated $1.2 million and Ceres would get $373,000.

Serpa said Ceres' fire hoses are worn out from use but city budget constraints have not made it possible to budget for replacements. He also stated that Ceres Fire has not replaced any extrication tools since 2008 and have not been serviced since 2015.

"Vehicle technology has moved forward at such a rapid pace that our tools have become obsolete. The grant will allow us to replace all of our vehicle extrication equipment with more efficient and powerful tools."