Over $25,000 in federal funding awarded to Rochester Fire Department

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published October 28, 2021

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ROCHESTER — The Rochester Fire Department will soon get a financial boost.

U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters recently announced that the Rochester Fire Department will receive $25,238 in federal funding for fire prevention and safety.

The federal funds come from the Department of Homeland Security’s Fire Prevention and Safety Grant Program.

Rochester Fire Chief John Cieslik plans to use the funding to assist the department in emergency preplanning for businesses.

“We are always doing a risk assessment of the department and what we can do to better improve our response and protect our residents,” he said.

The department, Cieslik said, uses Oakland County’s ArcGIS program for property management. The program is a cloud-based geographic information system platform that enables non-GIS users to make and share their own maps and applications using the county’s authoritative GIS data, as well as data they create on their own. Maps and apps can be viewed on a desktop or embedded on websites, and they can be shared on mobile devices anytime, anywhere.

“It’s kind of like a Google map, but it has additional information in it,” Cieslik explained. “There is a function to be able to do building preplans, so we can identify where the gas shutoff is, the electrical, if there are any other special hazards inside the building, or people with special needs, so that when the firefighters get dispatched to a particular address, this will come up on the computers in the trucks and they can have real-time information about the property and the hazards or important utility information when they pull up. It will allow them to be better prepared to respond more efficiently.”

Cieslik is hopeful that the preplanning efforts will also help the department increase its Insurance Services Organization — or ISO — rating. Two years ago, the department’s ISO rating jumped up from a Class Five to a Class Three, in a 10 Class scale, with Class One being the best.

“We were a few points short of Class Two. One of the things that we needed to do was to do a better job with preplanning, so this will go ahead and help us take care of the preplanning piece,” he said.

A better ISO rating also means potentially lower fire insurance rates for residents of Rochester.

“As we get better, our grade will improve too, which means that our residents will be able to purchase home insurance much cheaper,” Cieslik added. “The lower the number you have, the less the rates are for home insurance.”

Stabenow said firefighters put “their lives on the line” to protect families, homes and communities.

“These new resources will help keep the public safe and give our first responders the equipment they need to do their jobs more safely and effectively,” Stabenow said in a statement.

Peters, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said first responders are on the front lines to respond when emergencies strike.

“Ensuring that they are protected in the line of duty is vital,” Peters said in a statement. “I’m pleased to announce these grants, which will help improve public safety and better ensure departments in Michigan have the resources to do their jobs safely and effectively.”

More information about the grant can be found at fema.gov/firegrants.

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