Four volunteer fire departments will be able to replace self-contained breathing apparatuses for their members because of a $288,420 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters.
The money will be used by the officers and members of the Kirwan Heights and Rennerdale fire departments in Collier and the Heidelberg Volunteer Fire Department and Oakdale Hose Company.
The funds, which were granted in late July, will be used to replace outdated protective equipment. In 2013, the National Fire Protection Association set a new safety standard for the breathing apparatuses, which left most departments across the nation non-compliant with the new standard.
The departments must provide 5 percent matching funds toward the purchase of the new equipment. The fire department money will come from fundraising events.
“It’s a huge benefit to the communities,” said Joe Wissel Sr., who is chief of the Heidelberg Volunteer Fire Department and works for Kirwan Heights’ EMS service.
He added that the volunteers are in the process of placing their orders, which will cost about $5,000 apiece. Delivery will be made in about six weeks, followed by training.
He noted that the departments’ existing breathing apparatuses are getting old. The grant will allow each of the four local departments to purchase 17 new self-contained breathing apparatuses for a total of 68.
The new breathing apparatuses, which will be mounted on firetrucks, have some useful additions.
According to a news release from the four departments, the new self-contained breathing apparatuses are adaptable to changing conditions and can handle chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear events.
The new equipment also will provide higher standards of protection, a universal alert safety system and improved plastic components that will withstand the hottest fire conditions.
Chief Wissel said U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, will present the FEMA check to the local departments in about a month.
Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.