Last year the Gearhart Fire Department’s annual fundraiser sought to raise funds to replace aging firefighter safety apparatus. This September, they did better than that. They received this letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program: “Congratulations, your grant application has been approved.”
The grant will bring more than $145,000 for operations and safety.
Grant money will be matched by the city with an additional $7,250 raised from donations, and will bring self-contained breathing apparatus to firefighters.
The equipment will be “a big help to emergency preparedness,” City Administrator Chad Sweet said in announcing the award at the Oct. 2 City Council meeting.
The grant comes to the fire department just in time, Fire Chief Bill Eddy said Friday, as air tanks are due to end useful life in December. Masks, some of which are past their recommended life, have been supplemented by used equipment from the Seaside Fire Department, those also set to expire.
Grant funds will be used to pay for self-contained breathing apparatus, considered essential safety equipment in a blaze. Each of the 22 units is about $6,800 and includes two air bottles and a face piece, Eddy said.
Air bottles, at about 25 pounds, last about 45 minutes each.
“This grant is huge,” Eddy said. “We were really struggling how we were going to do it. We’ve gotten donations from people to put a Band-aid on it. Now we’ll be able to use those donations to enhance that grant.”
An additional grant for wildland firefighting was also received by the fire department, with $8,000 from the Oregon Department of Forestry to be used for radios and turnout gear.