"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."