Thanks to Uncle Sam, the East Dundee and Countryside Fire Protection District will soon get its hands on 20 new self-contained breathing apparatus devices.
Firefighters wear them to protect their lungs from smoke, chemicals, hot gas and hazardous materials. They are distributed among the department's vehicles and will include air bottles, face masks, gauges, extra air bottles, harnesses and two longer air bottles for firefighter rescue.
As part of the Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, the fire district received a $104,553 grant that partially funds the upgrade, said Acting Chief Steve Schmitendorf. The 30-member fire protection district is only responsible for covering roughly $5,000.
"Every penny is important today with the budgeting, but it's a huge savings," Schmitendorf said. "We're very fortunate to get this."
They will replace the district's obsolete equipment that's 13 years old and starting to break down. Last year, the district spent roughly $6,000 on their maintenance, Schmitendorf said. The district also budgeted $15,000 for mandatory upgrades, but it wouldn't have been enough to bring them up to today's standards, Schmitendorf said.
"This is the lifeline of a firefighter," Schmitendorf said. "These are so important."
The district has formed a committee responsible for deciding what brand of devices they'll purchase. It is expected to make a recommendation to the board by the end of February and, pending availability, the district should have them all in place by March, Schmitendorf said.
In a news release, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, announced Thursday that it awarded $1,210,088 in grants to six Illinois fire departments/districts.
The grants, meant to strengthen America's "overall level of preparedness and ability to respond to fire and fire-related hazards" were also awarded to Franklin Park, Cicero, Crete, Dixon City and North Park. East Dundee's share was the fifth largest out of the six towns.