MCFR works on funding opportunities

Derrick Calhoun Star Staff Writer
Monday, November 14, 2022

Miles City Fire Rescue (MCFR) has been working diligently on finding and applying for any and all funding opportunities that are available to fund the rebuild of their condemned fire hall.

According to MCFR Chief Branden Stevens, they are continuing to search out funding opportunities for the fire hall.

“We are working on our USDA application, which hopefully should be getting finished up before the first of the year,” Stevens said. “Everything takes so much time, there are a lot of little things that need to be done.

Stevens added that it takes a lot of time turning over every stone, looking at every opportunity.

“It takes a lot of time, effort and energy to search out every opportunity to see if they are going to be a fit,” he said.

The Preliminary Architectural Report (PAR) that was done on the fire hall set the price for rebuilding at roughly $5.8 million. This total was settled on with the bare minimum amenities needed for a fire hall.

With the $1.6 million in funding received for the project from the City of Miles City through American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, MCFR is currently working on getting the remaining $4.2 million funded.

There are some promising funding opportunities that Stevens said have come to light and the department is exploring.

They are working on their application for a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rural development grant and loan that could potentially cover up to a 35% match and a low-interest loan over up to 40 years for the rest of the funding.

Some other funding options they are working on include a FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant that is worth just over $600,000; and a Montana-Dakota Utilities (MDU) grant that would be worth one million dollars over four years. MCFR is also waiting to hear back from a private corporation that they have reached out to about funding that Stevens said was promising.

Another grant that Stevens said they are hoping opens up are FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters grants that has a priority of rebuilding fire halls. According to Stevens they have been hearing from people in the senate that the grant might open up again.

“If that is the case we will be applying for that,” Stevens said. “We are hoping to know about this over the next few months.”

The amount of this grant would be determined by FEMA.

“I would say we are definitely more optimistic about funding opportunities than we might have been in the past,” he said. “We are waiting to hear work back on two big grants where we are currently in a holding pattern on, just waiting to hear back.”

If MCFR receives the MDU funds and BRIC grant program funds that are currently pending, the funding they need drops to $2.6 million with a number of funding options still available to them for the remainder.

Once MCFR has exhausted all their funding options, assuming they are still short funding, they would then need to turn to a public levy to fund the rest of the project. The option of a public levy would be put on a ballot for the public to vote on before it would be enacted.

The current building that MCFR is in was built in the 1950’s as a farm implement parts store. In the 1960’s it transitioned into the College Vocational School building and then the city fire department moved into the building in the 1970’s as a temporary home.

The building was never built to house people and heavy equipment. The firefighters

themselves remodeled the building several

times over the years.

It was determined by structural engineers that evaluated the building that the building wasn’t constructed correctly, including the trussing system. The building has degraded over the years, they determined, and it is beyond repair.

The building is not code compliant with city ordinance, and being a city owned building that would be required, which is why a remodel is the least of the options available.

Due to the current condition and damage to the building, the city’s insurance carrier will no longer cover the building.

The main issues with the building are in regards to the ceiling. The building’s upper support members have been compromised and damaged by water; the insulation is wet and moldy and in need of replacement; the rafters are cracked and in need of replacement; and the metal roof is damaged and has been leaking for years.

The roof also lacks a moisture barrier or sheeting under the metal roof, causing extensive condensation during winter months.

Some other issues the building is dealing with include sinking ground around the state that is causing water drainage issues; a warped front apron in need of repair or replacement; cracked foundation; cracked and broken concrete slab; electrical system that is outdated; multiple problems with the bathrooms and sewer lines in the main building and cabins; and no barrier between the metal siding and the wood framing.

(Contact Derrick Calhoun at mcsportsreporter@gmail. com or at 406-234-0450.)

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