HERNDON — Four local fire companies took delivery Monday night of 35 self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units valued at more than $230,000.
The new 3M Scott Air-Pak X3 Pro air tanks and harnesses were delivered to the Herndon Fire Co. by Mid Atlantic Fire and Air, Reading. Seven are going to Herndon, nine each to Lower Augusta and Lower Mahanoy fire companies and 10 to Hickory Corners Fire Co.
The equipment was purchased with a $216,667 grant awarded through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Grant program with the assistance of the office of former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta. The local fire companies had to provide 10 percent toward each $6,700 unit.
“It means a lot to us” to have the new equipment, Herndon Fire Co. Assistant Chief Ron Hinkley said, noting it would be extremely difficult for small fire companies to afford the SCBAs without the grant.
The fire companies evenly split the $4,000 cost of having the grant application written by a professional firm, FireMed Grant Solutions LLC, Allentown. Hinkley sees it as money well spent considering Herndon, with $1,000 for the grant and 10 percent on the units, spent less than the cost of one SCBA to get seven.
Using a grant writer with a track record of success helped, but what cinched the deal is the “regional” approach of having four fire companies apply jointly, Hinkley said.
The fire companies were using 2,216 pounds per square inch (psi) SCBAs that provide a maximum of 30 minutes of air, are about 15 years old — the maximum shelf life — and can no longer be certified. The new units provide 4,500 psi and are rated to provide 45 minutes of air.
Each new unit came with an extra cylinder and local fire company logos, as well as upgraded harnesses that reduce user fatigue and articulating waste pads that allow greater range of motion for the user. Each unit also includes transmitter alarm technology that can help rescuers find an injured firefighter.
Hinkley said the companies are considering a future joint grant application for new turnout gear.