The Office of Emergency Management has awarded six fire districts across the state with new high-axle, all-terrain vehicles to assist their communities with disaster preparedness and response. The vehicles are provided through the State Preparedness and Incident Response Equipment (SPIRE) Grant, which funds the purchase and distribution of equipment to be used during an emergency to decrease the risk for loss of life and property damage.
The six vehicles have been or are in the process of being delivered to Aurora Fire District, Cannon Beach Fire District, Eugene Springfield Fire, Evans Valley Fire District #6, Hoodland Fire District #74 and Warrenton Fire Dept.
“The SPIRE Grant provides practical equipment that can save lives and property during emergencies by allowing for a more efficient response at the local level,” said OEM Grants Coordinator Jim Jungling. “Applicants must demonstrate a need for the specific equipment and establish how it would significantly improve emergency response capabilities in their communities.”
The road-legal vehicles can access flooded areas, navigate rugged terrain and perform water rescues; they can also serve as brush rigs to fight small grass fires and other types of small, outdoor fires. Recent flooding and wildfire conditions have increased the need for the vehicles, which are designed and manufactured locally in Bend by CORE (Commander Off-Road Equipment), a division of EarthCruiser.
“We’ve been working closely with Business Oregon to identify more local and regional companies, like EarthCruiser, that can serve as partners for procurement of the equipment,” said Jungling. “While it’s not always possible to buy local, we do prioritize it, both to support the economy and to save money on equipment delivery.”
Warrenton Police Chief Mathew Workman said the CORE Vehicle will be used to help his community in the case of a tsunami or earthquake. “With any size tsunami, most of our city, including dozens of residential neighborhoods, will be inundated with water. This type of vehicle will allow us to perform rescue operations in those areas,” said Workman. “Similarly, during an earthquake, thousands of trees and utility poles will most likely topple and prevent standard-axle vehicles from traversing around town to perform rescue operations, whereas a high-axle vehicle would have a better chance of reaching the impacted areas.”
Oregon House Bill 2687 established the SPIRE Grant program, which became effective in August 2017. A total of $5 million was made available in the grant’s first round, which awarded 81 pieces of equipment to 79 different awardees. Individual items had a minimum cost of $5,000 per item and were selected from an approved equipment list. In addition to the CORE Vehicles, equipment included generators, fuel tankers, big-water rescue boats, a low-water rescue boat, rescue jet skis, mass casualty trailers and water purification trailers. While the state purchases the equipment, the awardee is responsible for the maintenance, staffing and response. The state retains the option to request use of the equipment elsewhere if an emergency occurs.
Oregon legislature has funded the SPIRE Grant with $10 million for 2022-2023. The next grant round will be open March 1-June 1 and will include similar equipment to that previously offered, with the addition of urban search and rescue equipment, morgue trailers and solar generators. Qualified applicants include any organization responsible for or containing expertise in emergency preparedness that is a local government, special government body or a private 501(c)(3) organization. Learn more at https://www.oregon.gov/oem/emresources/Grants/Pages/Spire.aspx.
Source: Oregon Office of Emergency Management