Rescue Hose Co. gets grant for breathing apparatus

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

Greencastle’s Rescue Hose Co. has a little extra financial breathing room after receiving a federal grant for nearly a quarter-million dollars to replace self-contained breathing apparatus.

The department recently was awarded an Assistance to Firefighters Grant in the amount of $241,880 for operations and safety from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The money will be used to replace the breathing apparatus that is reaching the end of its service life, according to Fire Chief Kevin Barnes.

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“The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and non-affiliated emergency medical service organizations,” according to the FEMA website. “Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment for protecting the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.”

Rescue Hose Co. will use a Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Grant to replace self-contained breathing apparatus.

The money will be used to replace SCBA equipment purchased with a AFG grant in 2011, Barnes said. That grant of $182,875 paid for 36 units, while the new grant will cover 32.

“Grants are important to us,” Barnes said, noting it is challenging to cover large expenses out of pocket. The FEMA grant nearly matches his annual budget of $250,000 for the fire services department of Rescue Hose.

The breathing apparatus is needed allow firefighters to operate safely anytime they enter a “hazardous or dangerous atmosphere” such as a fire or a chemical situation, Barnes said.

Barnes said he is talking with vendors, hopes to place an order by the end of the year and, best case scenario, have the new equipment in service in mid to late 2023.

The boost from FEMA also provides flexibility to look at equipment the department otherwise could not afford.

“We have some things in the queue,” Barnes said, citing replacement of the duty officer vehicle and new portable radios. The department also will be replacing a fire engine within the next 18 months.

Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at