New equipment a breath of fresh air for Haleyville Fire

Haleyville Fire Department was able to purchase 32 new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses with extra air bottles this month thanks to a federal matching-funds grant. (Courtesy Photo)

HALEYVILLE - Haleyville Fire and Rescue (HFD) was able to replace its entire aging inventory of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses (SCBA) this month thanks to a federal grant, the 2022 Assistance to Firefighters Grant, that it received on August 10, 2023.

“(SCBA are) our source of safe breathing air when we’re inside of a house fire or a hazardous materials scene," said Craig Thomas, HFD firefighter and paramedic. “Anytime that there’s a toxic atmosphere, we’ll wear those.”

Thomas said that prior to receiving the new equipment, some of its SCBA was nearly 30 years old and even its newest SCBA was 9 years old. The manufacturer of the oldest equipment is no longer in business, and replacement parts for it were no longer available. “Everything is obsolete,” Thomas said of the old SCBA.

Through this matching-funds grant, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security awarded HFD 95 percent of the $288,500 needed to purchase its new SCBA, leaving HFD to cover the final 5 percent.

Thomas, who co-wrote the application for this grant with DH Grants of Cordova, said that the City of Haleyville provided the remaining five percent of the funds or $13,738.10.

After the grant was awarded, HFD found an SCBA supplier—Dräger—through a competitive bid process, and the new SCBA packs were delivered on March 8.

In total, HFD received 32 new SCBA packs and 64 bottles of air. All of it complies with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, and the air bottles have enough air for 45 minutes instead of the 30 minutes of air HFD’s old bottles had. Plus, the new SCBA is more lightweight and ergonomic than the old gear, Thomas said.

“We’ve got enough for every position on every truck,” Thomas said. “Each truck requires a certain amount. The ladder truck, the pumpers, require a minimum of four. The tanker and the quick-attack require at least two. That’s to comply with NFPA regulations.”

Thomas said he has been trying to get this grant for six years. He has been the HFD’s primary grant writer since 2005. In that time, his grant applications have brought in more than $1 million for HFD.

This new equipment will benefit not only HFD but other fire departments in the area because the City of Haleyville is now donating its original inventory of SCBA to local volunteer fire departments.

At its March 18 regular meeting, the Haleyville City Council approved a resolution declaring 29 air packs and 70 air bottles, plus 27 coats and pants and 12 boots, to be surplus property and authorizing Mayor Ken Sunseri to donate all of the above. “(B)y donating this property to the surrounding Volunteer Fire Departments, a public purpose will be met, as they will be better equipped and able to fight fires and lend aid, if needed, in the course of Haleyville’s Mutual Aid Agreement with the surrounding area fire departments,” the resolution stated.

See more local news in the Northwest Alabamian.
Subscribe now!