FAA awards $3.13M grant to airport
FORT SMITH — The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday the award of a $3.13 million grant for construction of a fire station at the city’s airport.
The grant is one of four the agency doled out to Arkansas airports Monday totaling more than $4.4 million. The other airports and grant amounts were El Dorado, $196,564; Monticello, $460,000; and Texarkana, $651,798, according to an FAA news release.
Michael Griffin, director of the Fort Smith Regional Airport, said the airport needs a new fire station because the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 188th Wing discontinued its firefighting operation, which also provided firefighting service for the civilian airport, after it lost its flying mission in 2014.
Griffin said the airport must chip in 10 percent of the total to match the federal grant.
Once the agency releases the money, probably in a few weeks, the airport can give the notice to proceed with the project, Griffin said. In addition to building the station, utilities will have to be extended to the site, an expense Griffin said will be covered by the grant.
It will take about 12 to 14 months to complete construction, he said.
The Air National Guard allowed the airport to temporarily use its fire station until it could build its own, Griffin said.
Since the Air National Guard lost its flying mission, reverting to flying remotely piloted aircraft, the airport hired a contractor, Pro-Tec Fire Services of Green Bay, Wis., to provide firefighters. The airport bought a new firetruck in 2015, which Griffin said doesn’t fit in the Air National Guard’s station.
The news release said El Dorado’s grant will be for installation of a runway vertical/visual guidance system. Monticello’s grant will be for expansion of an apron and installation of apron lighting. Texarkana’s grant will pay for construction of a terminal building.