The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners approved a $266,550 federal grant application for self-contained breathing apparatus units replacements and a device for testing the fit of breathing masks.
“They’re coming to the end of their usable life,” city Fire Chief Zane Poindexter said of the existing breathing apparatus units. The air packs now used were bought in 2003 and 2004 and in additional to being 10 or more years old the units do not meet present safety standards of the National Fire Protection Association.
To buy new equipment, the commissioners approved the submitting of the grant application with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through its 2014 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. If the $266,550 needed for the equipment is awarded by that entity, Mount Airy would be responsible for a 5 percent local match of about $13,330.
The 30 self-contained breathing apparatus units sought would replace all the present equipment used here and include extra breathing cylinders, face pieces and voice amplifiers that aid firefighting efforts.
“We couldn’t do our jobs without them,” Poindexter said of air packs’ function in allowing firemen to cope with smoke and heat.
Along with the air packs, the funding would cover the addition of a Quantifit Respirator Fit-Testing System to the city fire department so it can test the fit of firemen’s breathing masks. The system costs about $13,000, the chief said.
While a medium-size standard mask works for most individuals, in some cases a larger type can be needed to conform to the contours of a person’s face. If a firefighter wears glasses, the fit of the mask must account for those, also, Poindexter added, including a space for the glasses to be mounted.
If the grant application is approved, the device also could assist other local public safety personnel such as city police and Haz-Mat team members.
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