$121,000 grant will boost firefighter safety

5 months ago

A $121,000 grant will help a local firefighting team stay safer on the job.

The Mapleton, Castle Hill and Chapman Fire Department has received a federal grant to help them update the breathing gear they use when they go into burning buildings.

Firefighters must use self-contained breathing apparatuses during any firefighting or hazardous materials response, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Worn on the firefighters’ backs with oxygen tanks, the devices allow them to breathe safe air while working at a fire scene.

“It’s going to directly affect the safety of our firefighters, having the updated equipment, so we’re really excited,” Fire Chief Adam Rider said. 

The $121,428 grant is part of the 2022 Assistance to Firefighters Grant program which the department applied for last year, Rider said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency notified him Friday about the grant.

With the funds, the department will purchase 17 new air packs and 34 air bottles, or spare tanks, Rider said.

Along with Mapleton, the Littleton Fire Department will receive $98,000 to update respiratory equipment, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Tuesday.

The U.S. Senate passed the Fire Grants and Safety Act in April, which extended the Assistance to Firefighters grants and other programs to ensure adequate fire personnel and training, according to a statement from Collins’ office.

Self-contained breathing devices should be replaced after four updates to meet current standards, according to the National Fire Protection Association. 

Mapleton’s existing airpacks have seen about five edition updates, Rider said. The new gear will bring the department into compliance with association requirements.

Under Maine law, breathing gear should have at least 30 minutes of oxygen, and firefighters need a spare cylinder allowing another 30 minutes.  

The all-volunteer Mapleton, Castle Hill and Chapman Fire Department is staffed by 25 volunteers, Rider said.

The chief is grateful the government opened the opportunity for the grant, and said the department will purchase the new gear as soon as possible.

“Without the funds, we wouldn’t have been able to upgrade our air packs as quickly,” he said.