COVENTRY — Hopkins Hill Fire Chief Frank Brown can hardly keep his the smile off his face and the relief out of his voice after he received word last week that the fire district will receive a portion of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) for the highest quality air packs for the 2013 standards.
“This is such a huge, huge thing,” he said. “To be able to outfit these guys with the best equipment out there is the most important thing.”
The district has been trying for the past three years to get a piece of the $5 million the federal government has available through this particular grant.
According to Brown, the administrators of the grant must report the amount of total grant requests. This year, that number reached $1.2 billion.
Brown explained that monies are distributed based on low to high priority. For example, if a station requests funds for a truck or breathing gear, that would be considered a high priority while an equipment trailer would be low on the list.
“Personal protection gear is always high,” Brown said, “and our award for 14 Scott Air-Paks, with a complete package is $113,996.”
Of that amount, Hopkins Hill pays a five percent portion, or $5,700. He said the federal government will give Hopkins Hill the difference of $108,296.
Some of their current packs date back to 1989 and 1997. Brown said the department could get Air Paks from 2007, the last time the national standards were updated, but if they wait until the fall when the standards will be updated again, they can get the absolute latest and greatest which feature invaluable safety features that Brown said, can make all the difference.
Brown explained that when a department is rejected for a grant, they are not told why. Therefore, grants that are resubmitted are done through trial and error even though they have specific guidelines to follow.
The new face masks will be able to better absorb heat and have a warning system inside to let a firefighter know where his oxygen level is, an improved voice amplifier that allows for communication among firefighters, and a low air alarm that will go off when a tank is at 33 percent air remaining instead of 22 percent. All distress alarms will sound the same to avoid confusion regarding the type of alarm sounding.
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