Volunteer Fire Departments often serve as a cornerstone in many Nebraska communities. The peace of mind of knowing help will be there if needed is reassuring. This being the case in the City of Bridgeport (pop. 1,545), the city’s Volunteer Fire Department understands the importance of up-to-date equipment as well. Replacing the Department’s fire engine purchased in 1984 had been a goal for many years. Despite the fact that the fire engine passed current pump tests, it was nearing the end of its functional life and being pushed to the limit by also serving the fire protection needs of much of the surrounding area. The existing fire engine also did not allow for transportation of additional personnel which meant the need existed for alternative means of transportation. This not only was adding cost to the department, but affected its ability to perform efficient fire protection.
Understanding the substantial cost of a new fire engine, the City of Bridgeport sought out external funding sources to defray the cost. After initial efforts to secure grant funding were unsuccessful, the City Council as well as the City’s Fire Department worked with the Panhandle Area Development District (PADD) to obtain a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). In July 2007, the City of Bridgeport was awarded $122,105 in CDBG funds, which were matched by funds from the City to purchase a new fire engine. More than 1,500 people are benefiting from the improved fire service throughout the area, with more than 800 of those being low-to-moderate income earners.
The new fire engine means that residents of the City of Bridgeport and the surrounding area can rest peacefully, knowing they have dependable fire protection. Success in this project led to other CDBG funded community projects for Bridgeport, including a current water system improvement project