Fire district gets boost from tribal grant


Thanks to a recently awarded grant, Hellsgate Fire District will be able to get some needed equipment for its firefighters.

The small rural fire district, covering around 38 square miles in northern Gila County, applied this spring for a $49,507 tribal gaming grant from the Gila River Indian Community.

Good news reached the district last month; on Sept. 15, they learned their grant application had been approved. All the tribe needed to finalize things was a resolution by the Gila County Board of Supervisors accepting the grant and authorizing the county as a pass-through, receiving the grant money and passing it on to Hellsgate Fire District. The board unanimously passed such a resolution during their Oct. 6 meeting.

The district will use the grant funds to buy a critical breathing air compressor, which produces purified air for firefighters’ self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) tanks – tanks that firemen use in environments with toxic air. Hellsgate Fire Chief John Wisner said each tank allows firefighters to breathe safely in hazardous environments for around 45 minutes.

Wisner said the amount applied for was based on contacts with suppliers. “We typically reach out to suppliers for quotes before applying for an equipment grant,” he said. He added that, with the board’s resolution, it shouldn’t take long for the tribe to release the grant funds.

“This money will provide safe breathing air for our firefighters now and for decades to come,” said Wisner.

Since it was formed in 2008, Hellsgate Fire District has served several small residential areas in the northern part of the county, with about 20,000 people in the local community and over 100,000 visitors to the nearby forests.

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