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3 Mich. FDs to use $420K FEMA grant to replace SCBAs

Hillsdale, Litchfield and Jonesville departments will split a 5% match required in the grant, costing each of them around $7,000


“We’re getting $160,000 of equipment for an almost $11,000 investment,” said Hillsdale City Police and Fire Chief Scott Hephner.

Photo/Hillsdale City Fire Department

Corey Murray
Hillsdale Daily News

HILLSDALE, Mich. — Three area fire departments will replace their aging secure-closed breathing apparatus systems after being awarded a joint- Federal Emergency Management Agency grant for $420,000 this fall.

Hillsdale City Police and Fire Chief Scott Hephner briefed the Hillsdale City Council Monday night on the approval of the grant that was written in cooperation with the Litchfield Fire Department and Jonesville City Fire Department.

Each department will split a 5-percent match required in the grant, costing each of them around $7,000 in addition to the estimated $3,600 in costs each department paid for the grant writer.

Hephner said the FEMA grant will allow the departments to purchase 63 SCBA systems which will be split between the three departments.

Each of the departments will receive 20 SCBA systems and one Rapid Intervention Team SCBA system that is used in the event a firefighter goes down inside a burning structure by rescue personnel.

The new 4500 PSI SCBA systems will be slightly bigger then Hillsdale City’s current 3,000 PSI tanks allowing for more working time before firefighters must switch tanks.

Hephner said Hillsdale’s fire department had planned to replace aging tanks alone with funding from a fire millage passed in recent years but in doing research into the replacements, he discovered the entire SCBA system was aging and it was becoming more difficult to find replacement parts.

The city was initially quoted around $10,000 per unit for 20 units at a total cost of $200,000, Hephner said, but the joint cooperation with other departments reduced the cost by tens of thousands of dollars.

“We’re getting $160,000 of equipment for an almost $11,000 investment,” Hephner said.

The city had budgeted $78,000 to replace the tanks alone and is saving around $67,000 with the grant funding covering a significant portion of the cost.

“We’re just waiting for the equipment to come in now,” Hephner said, noting it will likely arrive after the new year.

SCBA systems are a vital part of a firefighters personal protective equipment and allow them to breathe safe air during fires where heavy smoke filled with carcinogens present an inherent danger to firefighters.


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