Grant gives breathing room

Published 6:07 am Sunday, October 14, 2007

By Staff
Fire department to replace aging equipment
By CLAUD HODGES, Senior Reporter
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the City of Washington have put together a $170,000 grant that both sides agree on.
The federal government is putting up $161,500 for the city’s Fire-Rescue-EMS-Inspections Department and the city is matching that with $8,500.
A grant-writing coach from Texas worked with Division Chief of Operations Robbie Rose to polish the application and the work paid off, Davis said.
The City of Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS-Inspections department with 34 employees and 20 volunteer members providing protection to more than 15,000 residents.
Davis said the self-contained breathing equipment would have had to be replaced soon anyway because they would not operate safely because of wear and tear on the tanks.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is the federal agency that oversees Homeland Security. The grant is to upgrade the self-contained breathing devices.
With the $170,000 will come 30 kits of 4,500 psi self-contained breathing systems with two bottles with each kit. The tanks the city is now using are 14 years old.
Self-contained breathing equipment allows firefighters precious time to get into a burning building safely. If you have four firefighters at the scene, only two can go inside and the other two have to stand by.
Another aspect of the self-contained breathing devices is that they can be used in the event of terrorism, which sometimes is accompanied by contaminants in the air like chemical, biological, radiation and nuclear problems.
According to the actual grant, it reads that the funding of this project will reduce the risk of severe injuries or fatalities to Washington’s firefighters during incidents by reducing the possibility of a self-contained breathing apparatus failure due to the age and condition of the equipment; and, by having safe and compliant equipment Washington should be able to continue its aggressive offensive operations which would assist the fire department in extinguishing a fire faster.
Also, it reads that this would help reduce property damage as well as reduce the life safety risk of our citizens and our firefighters as the faster the fire goes out, the less risk there is.
In addition, it reads that this equipment will allow the department to continue to provide the technical rescue services, since without compliant equipment the department cannot perform confined space rescue operations safely or legally.