Rescue Hose Company gets grant for safety equipment

Matt Bowman, 16, junior firefighter president, displays the self-contained breathing apparatus which will be replaced with the most modern style, thanks to a federal grant.

Greencastle Rescue Hose Company No. 1 learned last week it was the recipient of a $182,875 safety grant, and personnel were more than pleased. Congressman Bill Shuster announced that the fire company was awarded a Department of Homeland Security FIRE grant to replace 35 self-contained breathing apparatus units.

"We appreciate the support from individuals and municipalities," said fire chief Kevin Barnes, "but this expedites the purchase of the units. Our old ones were purchased in 1999 and just reached the last time they could be tested. We had penciled in to replace them within the next two years."

The units are mounted on all rescue equipment and used by emergency personnel during any hazardous material call, or for the myriad types of fires. They came with a 15-year life span.

The grant application was a team effort, Barnes said, requiring a significant amount of information. The RHC had to show a need, statistics on department operations, and demographics of the first due area.

"It was pretty extensive paperwork."

Shuster noted in a press release, "This is great news for the first responders at Rescue Hose Company and the people they help protect every day. Without this critical equipment, our volunteer firefighters wouldn’t have the ability to enter hazardous or smoke-filled environments to save lives.”

Barnes predicted it would be several weeks before the new units arrived, once company officials chose the supplier. He was grateful for the grant.

"It saves us a princely sum we can now use for another project."