KIVFD awarded grant for breathing equipment
CHESTER — The Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department has been awarded a $285,143 Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters Grant.
KIVFD Assistant Chief Paul Schlotterbeck said the grant funds will be used to replace all of the department’s self-contained breathing apparatus. SCBA has a lifespan of about about 15 years, he said.
Since 2003 KIVFD has been fortunate to receive six Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters grants, Schlotterbeck said. Schlotterbeck wrote the grants.
The first grant KIVFD received in 2003 provided the equipment now being replaced. At that time, the grant replaced hand-me-down SCBA from Anne Arundel County.
“Those are now 14 years old. By the time the new ones go into service, they would have been reaching their 15 years,” Schlotterbeck said.
The department will be purchasing 47 breathing apparatus as well as spare air cylinders and a mask for every firefighter. A complete SCBA package includes a face mask and air pack, including the cylinder, plus one spare cylinder.
While some people think the tanks are oxygen, they are really compressed breathing air, Schlotterbeck said.
The grant includes enough money to provide individual, fitted masks for all the fire personnel, around 50 active responders.
“The grants have enabled our department to purchase and maintain state-of-the-art equipment. All of the equipment purchased has been for the safety of our firefighters,” Schlotterbeck said.
The AFG Program of the DHS, Federal Emergency Management Agency is an important component of the larger, coordinated effort to strengthen the Nation’s overall level of preparedness and ability to respond to fire and related hazards. Since 2001, the AFG has provided more than $6.4 billion in grants to first-responder organizations to obtain much-needed emergency response equipment, personal protective equipment, firefighting and emergency vehicles, and training.
He said KIVFD will continue to do needs analyses. Grants are competitive and needs must match each grant’s priorities. Some needs don’t fit into the grants. For example, KIVFD is working on replacing its 23-year-old rescue truck — “a giant tool box on wheels” — but it doesn’t fit into a grant, so the fire department is raising funds other ways.
“Equipment these days is double the cost of the average house, not the equipment, just the truck,” he said.
The Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department is comprised of friends and neighbors who volunteer their time to protect the residents and visitors of Kent Island. KIVFD is continually seeking new members for all types of duties — not only firefighters and emergency medical services personnel, but also people to help with fundraisers and administrative duties.
“We have a great cadet program for youth from ages 14-16,” Schlotterbeck said. Cadets participate in training and learn from experienced personnel.
New members are provided with all equipment, and the training is free. Stop by the firehouse, pick up an application and find out how rewarding it is to help your friends and neighbors when an emergency hits home, Schlotterbeck urged.