Grant money to supply new fire equipment in Woods

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published May 19, 2016

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GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Members of the Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Department will be receiving new fire equipment thanks to a federal grant the department was selected to receive. 

U.S. Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow recently announced that the department is one of three that will receive assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. 

The competitive grants are designed to help first responders purchase equipment and obtain the training needed to handle fire-related hazards. 

“It is critical that first responders and firefighters have the tools and resources needed to keep their communities safe,” Peters said in a prepared statement. “These funds will help ensure first responders across southeast Michigan are equipped to respond when disaster strikes.”

The Woods Public Safety Department is scheduled to receive $122,596 in grant funds. The department had to produce a 5 percent match for the equipment, which totaled $6,100. The grant dollars are expected to be distributed in one lump sum.

In an email, Woods Public Safety Director Bruce Smith said the grant money will be used to purchase 19 new self-contained breathing apparatus, 38 air tanks and 35 facepiece masks. The term “self-contained” means the breathing set is not dependent on a remote supply of air, such as a hose. 

“We had to have a specific project when we applied,” Smith said. “We were in need of new (apparatus). Ours was 20 years old. Our old units were failing recertification, and we were going to have to replace them.”  

The new units are 15 pounds lighter and are equipped with a little more than twice the air time: 45 minutes as opposed to the 20 minutes of the previous devices. Smith said the new masks will have LED lights inside that give firefighters continuous information on the remaining air inside their gear. 

Smith said the new equipment will have communication devices allowing clear voice communications. The devices were designed ergonomically to get the weight of the units off of the firefighters’ shoulders and onto their hips to reduce back fatigue and injuries. The new gear also has built-in personal alert safety systems to locate the firefighters if they get trapped or injured while battling a fire or involved in another emergency.

Under the same grant program, the Southgate Fire Department will receive $38,182, and the Wayne Fire Department will receive $29,715. Eligible fire departments and emergency medical services organizations in Michigan and across the country can apply for Assistance to Firefighters Grants.