FAYETTE — More than $270,000 in federal funding announced Wednesday for the Fayette Fire Department is the largest grant the small force has ever received and will help buy new equipment.

“It’s almost like we won the lottery,” Fayette Fire Chief Marty Maxwell said on Wednesday morning. “It’s huge. This will benefit the town a lot.”

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the Department of Homeland Security had awarded $270,750 to the department through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

“Our firefighters put their lives on the line at every call to save others and protect property, whether in a single house fire or in a widespread disaster,” Collins said in a statement. “They need good equipment, adequate staffing, intensive training and public support to do their job.”

Fayette firefighters will use the money to purchase a new tanker/pumper, which will replace a 25-year-old tanker and a 1956 engine.

Town Manager Mark Robinson credited the whole fire department, including Maxwell, deputy chief Stacey Rose and assistant chief John Churchill, for their work on the grant application.

Maxwell said the group will reconvene and draw up specifications for the new vehicle and put out a request for proposal to dealers.

Terms of the grant require a local share of $14,250. Both Maxwell and Robinson said that money would be drawn from the fire department’s reserve account, which contains about $75,000. Townspeople voted last April to authorize the money for that purpose if the grant application succeeded.

“This is something that will not cost the taxpayers more money,” Robinson said. “It’s a great, great thing for Fayette.”

The grant money will also include training for firefighters on operating the new equipment.

Collins’ office said Maine fire departments have been awarded more than $54 million to help purchase new, used or refurbished vehicles and equipment over the past nine years.

The department, which has 19 active members and two junior firefighters, responds to about 70 fire calls a year in Fayette and surrounding communities that are members of the five-town Lakes Regional Mutual Aid group.

The Fayette Fire Department received a $250,000 community development block grant about seven years ago to help build a new fire station, Maxwell said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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