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COVENTRY â€” It was training night for the Hopkins Hill firefighters with new breathing apparatus the department is expecting to have by first thing next year.
â€śI think itâ€™s fantastic,â€ť said Lt. Eric Kiernan. â€śBreathing apparatus is one the most important pieces of the gear and the most difficult to get because itâ€™s the most expensive. I think the new things like the voice amplifiers and other things theyâ€™ve improved is phenomenal.â€ť
The district has been trying for the past three years to get a piece of the $5 million the federal government has available through this particular grant.
According to Brown, the administrators of the grant must report the amount of total grant requests. This year, that number reached $1.2 billion.
Brown explained that monies are distributed based on low to high priority. For example, if a station requests funds for a truck or breathing gear that would be considered a high priority while an equipment trailer would be low on the list.
â€śPersonal protection gear is always high,â€ť Brown said, â€śand our award for 14 Scott Air-Paks, with a complete package is $113,996.â€ť
Of that amount, Hopkins Hill pays a five percent portion, or $5,700. He said the federal government will give Hopkins Hill the difference of $108,296.
Some of their current packs date back to 1989 and 1997. Brown said the department could get Air Paks from 2007, the last time the national standards were updated, but if they wait until the fall when the standards will be updated again, they can get the absolute latest and greatest which feature invaluable safety features that Brown said, can make all the difference.
As firefighters tried on the gear during a break in the training, they checked out how the thicker straps, mask and valves work for the air tank pressure.
Brandon Millan, regional manager for Scott Safety Company explained and in some cases, demonstrated the updated gear versus the older.
One aspect he pointed out was the red inhalation pieces that used to be black.
No firefighter should head into a emergency situation without both of those pieces in place,â€ť he said. â€śWith them now being red, the chief can give the guys a quick check before he sends them in.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s pretty comfortable,â€ť said Private Eric Sartwell.
Brown said the next step is to look at the options the department needs and put out the bids for a qualified fire equipment company to make the product. He plans to have and be using the equipment by the spring.