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Hoodland Fire receives grant for new breathing apparatus posted on 10/01/2021

While many imagine the breathing apparatus firefighters are frequently shown wearing into a fiery environment is an oxygen tank, it contains regular breathing air, which consists of only 21 percent oxygen.

“Pure oxygen in a fire isn’t a good thing,” said Scott Kline, Division Chief for Hoodland Fire District, pointing out one of the many potential dangers firefighters encounter in the line of duty.

The Hoodland Fire District (HFD) was awarded a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) in August for the replacement of all the district’s Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). The annual grants have been offered by FEMA since 2001 to provide funding for “critically needed resources necessary for protecting the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.”

“A SCBA is worn any time we’re working in an IDOH (In Danger of Hazard) environment,” said Kline.

A SCBA consists of a facemask, backpack, straps and a tank. The grant money will enable the district to purchase 31 masks and packs, 62 refillable bottles and 10 extra masks.

The updated protective gear will cost $220,398 with $209,900 provided from FEMA funds and the district providing five percent in matching funds, or approximately $10,495.

The SCBAs are evaluated for safe use based on National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. The district’s current SCBAs were last upgraded in 2008 and met 2007 standards at the time.

Kline explained the district was expecting to have to phase out and replace these devices next year.

“Next year (our current devices) will not meet the safety standard set forth by the NFPA,” Kline said.

The updated standards will render the 15-year-old SCBAs obsolete. The district will not be able to donate the gear to another district for use.

Each bottle contains 45 minutes of regular breathing air for use in the field before a replacement bottle is needed. HFD has a compressor to refill and reuse the tanks at the station.

HFD will begin receiving sample SCBAs from manufacturers for evaluation and testing, followed by a bid request, purchasing and fulfillment over the next six months before receiving the new devices.

More information about the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant program is available online at https://www.fema.gov/grants/preparedness/firefighters. HFD can be contacted at hoodland@hoodlandfire.org.

By Ben Simpson/MT

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