The Redlands City Council on Tuesday accepted a federal grant of more than $600,000 for a new ladder truck to replace the department’s current 36-year-old apparatus.

The Fire Department was notified in December by Congressman Jerry Lewis’ office of the $636,000 award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s 2010 Assistance to Firefighter’s Grant.

ladder_truck_copyThe grant will cover 80 percent of the purchase of a new ladder truck, with a 20 percent match from the city. The grant was among the highest awarded nationally and will allow the decommissioning of the 1975 aerial ladder that has served the city with distinction for 36 years.

Fire Chief Jeff Frazier committed his department to raising the 20 percent matching fund requirement. “A full fledged fund raising effort will be swinging into action to find the $159,000 and prevent a negative impact on the City’s general fund budget and our partner departments,” Frazier said.

The ladder truck’s primary function is to facilitate rescue and fire suppression operations in structures over two to three stories high. Redlands’ many historic Victorian homes and other buildings necessitate the demand for an aerial ladder because of the height of the structures, steep roof designs and significant setbacks.

The 1975 Crown Ladder Truck is one of two the department currently owns and is used as a reserve to a 1998 Seagrave Ladder Truck. Once the 36-year-old Crown is decommissioned, the Seagrave will be moved to reserve status.

While provisions of the grant will prohibit use of the decommissioned truck in emergency operations, it will likely be sold to a collector or for an alternate, nonemergency function.

The Fire Department anticipates delivery of the new truck before the end of the year.

The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations. Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.