AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — They are there for emergencies, but Augusta Fire Officials say their rigs need to be ready to run, and not sitting at the repair shop. 

“It’s extremely important so the impact of any change in that or any improvements of that directly correlates to the safety not only of our firefighters but to our citizens,” said Fire Chief Antonio Burden.

But the Fire Chief’s request is extremely expensive, almost $7 million in Rescue Act funds to upgrade the fire fleet, that would use up almost all of cities remaining unassigned Rescue Act funds.  

“I think there will be some wheeling and dealing today, we may try to five him part of it but I don’t see six million dollars,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Bobby Williams. 

“We need to be giving the fire department something, but I question the funding source because of the usage of those funds according to the guidelines by the federal government,” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson.

“After thinking about what we have left, spending all that, I think we need to look at it and do maybe half,” said Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight.  

Commissioners did not approve SPLOST funding for fire vehicles in the next phase of the sales tax, leaving the department in a funding bind. City leaders did not reject the proposal, and instead sent it back to the committee for more discussion.

“Any improvement that we can make having no funding source whatsoever for vehicles, any improvement we could make would be beneficial,” said Chief Burden. 

But only if commissioners allow those funds to come to the department’s rescue.