East Missoula to hire, train new firefighters with $188K federal grant

East Missoula Rural Fire Department conducts numerous training programs each year. (East Missoula RFD)

East Missoula’s Rural Fire Department just won a $188,096 grant to help recruit and train new firefighters, with help from Montana Sen. Jon Tester.

The funds came from the Department of Homeland Security’s competitive Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, which Tester recently reauthorized along with the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program as part of a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by the late Sen. John McCain.

As ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Tester secured an additional $10 million for AFG and SAFER grants in this year’s budget bill.

He was the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation who voted to pass the bill.

“Firefighters put their lives on the line for us every day,” Tester said in a written statement. “This grant will help Missoula’s firefighters be prepared to secure our communities and keep our families safe.”

Tester’s SAFER and AFG grants also provided nearly $1 million to hire six additional firefighters in Belgrade and $800,000 to train and equip firefighters in Helena.