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N.H. FD receives $949K grant for new fire engine

Funding for a new Plaistow fire engine comes from the Volkswagon violation of the Clean Air Act


A Plaistow fire engine.

Plaistow Fire Rescue EMS/Facebook

By Angelina Berube
The Eagle-Tribune

PLAISTOW, N.H. — The town will get a grant of almost $1 million to put toward a new fire engine to replace an aging one.

The grant comes from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Agreement, which allotted $30.9 million to be used on various emission reduction projects in New Hampshire. The money is part of a larger $15 billion settlement Volkswagen made for violating the Clean Air Act.

The state was awarded the mitigation funds in 2018 to fund appropriate projects.

In January, the Board of Selectmen approved the department seeking some of the mitigation funds. Gov. Chris Sununu and the New Hampshire Executive Council approved the town receiving $949,982 for partial funding of a new fire truck at its May 15 meeting.

Plaistow Fire Chief Chris Knutsen relayed the news to the Board of Selectmen at its Monday meeting.

The grant covers 80% of the new fire engine purchase totaling $1.2 million, Knutsen said.

The other 20% comes from the fire department’s capital reserve fund which was approved at town election in March.

Knutsen said Town Manager Greg Colby discovered the grant last summer and brought it to his attention.

Knutsen researched it and made a proposal for the Plaistow Fire Department to seek the grant as it met the qualifications for funding.

The proposal will replace one of the town’s fire engines in the next three to four years, using the mitigation trust funds.

Knutsen said it’s become a difficult process to order any type of truck or ambulance since the COVID-19 pandemic. Before, it took about nine months for a fire engine to be delivered.

But that’s changed. Fire departments have to plan years in advance in order to budget funds and order equipment they won’t receive until possibly four years later, the chief said, adding it makes yearly budgets tricky.

“For department heads in the fire service, it makes it hard for us to replace fire apparatus in a timely manner,” he told the board.

The department plans to order the fire engine soon with the hopes it will arrive when the old engine needs to be replaced, Knutsen said. Paperwork for ordering the fire engine is being compiled this week.

“It’s exciting, but don’t get too excited because it’s probably going to be three and a half years before you see it,” Knutsen said.

“This (grant) was actually a blessing because we really can’t wait three to four years with the engine we have and then order it and it’s another three to four years before it comes in.”

The chief said the grant came only after town officials, state and executive council representatives and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services worked together to make it happen.

“This is a great example of us working in synergy,” Knutsen said.

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