Federal grant will upgrade Perryville's fire equipment

February 10, 2004|GARY MOYERS

PERRYVILLE - Perryville Fire Department knows the third time is a charm.

After two unsuccessful attempts to procure a federal fire safety grant, Chief Anthony Young received good news earlier this month that the department would receive a $34,200 grant to buy new air packs.

"It was great news for us," said Young. "This will help us buy new equipment to replace some that was near the end of its useful life. Those air packs are pretty expensive, and we've spent a lot of money over the years just trying to keep the old ones compliant."

The grant is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as part of the Fire Act of 2001, Young said, and is part of $75 million distributed nationally. It is actually a 90/10 grant, meaning the department will receive $30,780 while the city will provide 10 percent, or $3,420.


"It's all part of a federal effort to help fire departments keep up with expensive equipment costs," he said. "All fire departments, big and small, are eligible for the grants, and that's why it's so nice we got one. We were competing with the big boys on this."

Young said the money is especially important to a small fire department like Perryville's.

"Small departments like us that operate off a small city budget still need expensive equipment," he said. "We employ the same equipment and techniques as the big boys, just not on the same scale."

Young said the air packs, self-contained breathing apparatus, cost between $3,000 and $3,500 each. The units are worn on firefighters' backs, enabling them to breathe during fire and smoke situations.

"It's an essential piece of equipment," said Young. "With the exception of trucks, the air pack is the most important piece of a firefighter's equipment. The compliance standards for them keep going up each year."

Young said the department also will purchase a turnout gear washer, which is used to clean equipment and clothing after a fire.

"We've been using hoses and washing machines all these years, and this piece of equipment does a much better job," he said. "When you work in a fire, you come out with smoke and fire damage, and washing with a hose just doesn't get it all out. That shortens the life of the gear, and this turnout gear washer will save us money in the long run by getting the gear cleaner."

Young said the department plans to apply for another grant.

"This year we'll try to build on the grant we received by applying for more," he said. "We have some other needs that we plan to try and fill."

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