Decatur County Fire and Rescue receives grant for SCBA gear

Published 4:03 pm Friday, September 15, 2017

Decatur County Fire and Rescue announced it has been awarded a FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant.

The grant was awarded to the sum of $446,175 with the county contributing $40,561 of that sum. The process consisted of the firefighters filling out an application describing the need for the equipment they were asking to purchase. Firefighter Greg Brown said they were asking for new SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus), which are an essential life safety component of their firefighting capabilities.

The SCBAs Decatur County Fire & Rescue had were actually outdated. The National Fire Protection Association updates standards every four years, and DCFR’s packs were two-three standards behind. This will allow DCFR to get new packs and distribute them throughout the county. When the whole county has similar packs it allows for pieces to be interchangeable and much easier to work with, Brown said.

Chief Charlie McCann said these packs were something they desperately needed. “We have been trying for years to be awarded,” McCann said. “We’ve always been kicked back for some reason or another, but now we finally got it.”

The company that previously manufactured the packs for DCFR is no longer in business, so for the past few years DCFR has had to buy refurbished packs, making it difficult to match up pieces with older packs. McCann said the new packs will be more state of the art, upgraded and comply with the NFPA standards.

Lieutenant Brandon Draper said the packs have been modified to be safer than ever. They are now in the process of looking at specs and getting quotes for equipment. They have been able to get a quote for 60 new breathing apparatuses so far, which usually run $5,000-6,500 a piece.

McCann said they will continue to apply if need be. They have some other materials that are aging and showing their wear, and would love to get it again as long as it is available.  They currently still have one grant pending, but know it is the most sought after. If they receive it, they will be able to afford a new fire truck.