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Lompoc firefighters receive ballistic gear, lose grant for building upgrades

Posted at 6:07 PM, May 13, 2019

The Lompoc City Fire Department recently received a more than $21,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security for ballistic gear and rope systems, but a multi-million dollar FEMA grant to update the fire station headquarters was taken away.

“It’s a sad day that fire personnel have to get ballistic gear. It’s unfortunate times that we live but it’s important that first and foremost, our personnel are safe and able to perform their duties,” said Batallion Chief Brian Federmann.

But possibly one of the greater threats facing the department is an earthquake.

Lompoc’s Fire Station One is the result of three different add-ons spanning from the 1920s to the most recent addition, the engine bay, added in the 70s.

“We have had historically a very large earthquake that did hit Lompoc, so we have concerns that the building would not be completely functional and in fact could harm our occupants, being our firefighters, that have to be here 24/7 so that we’re available to help others,” explained Lompoc Fire Department Fire Marshal Dena Pashke.

The fire department was awarded a grant from FEMA back in 2014 to help reinforce the building, but they say they were recently told the grant was taken away once outside consultants discovered how much work was to be done.

“The second-floor roofing material and the structure and the wood members attached to the masonry building in the event of an earthquake would result in significant damage or collapse of the building,” Federmann explained.

The department is now looking for other ways to fund the much-needed upgrades.

“We need to perform our duty and ensure our people can get out and serve the community and not be trapped inside the building,” Federmann said.

This all comes at a time when the city is eyeing cuts to the department to help fix the budget deficit, so outside sources are likely their only chance of getting the money any time soon.

Federmann says they spend between 75-100 hours a year in the grant-writing process.

If the city moves ahead with the proposed cuts it would include losing three firefighters, in addition to several other cuts to public safety departments.