EAST PALESTINE - It's official. The village fire department is getting little more than $104,000 in federal grant money.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown announced last week the department will receive the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money through the Assistance to Firefighters Grants program.
Fire Chief Brett Todd said the department applied for the grant last summer and the money will be put toward 18 new air packs, two thermal imaging cameras and one rapid intervention team kit.
He was notified in March the department would likely receive the grant, but at that time wasn't aware how much money would be awarded. The department was seeking $121,629, he said.
The grant is for $104,211.
Todd said the new air packs will be enough for the entire department, which has a roster of 29 people, including himself.
The crew work on a paid-on-call basis and the air packs already on hand are more than 20 years old.
"The improvements have been so great over the last 20 years ours are definitely obsolete by almost everybody's standards," he said.
The two thermal imaging cameras will also replace the outdated ones at the department, one of which is already out of service.
The cameras allow firefighters to see through smoke while inside or around a burning structure, and also in the dark, and provide for more adequate detection of people in distress.
The rapid intervention equipment is for use in the event a firefighter becomes incapacitated on a call and can't be reached by other firefighters immediately.
For example, if a firefighter falls through a floor or a roof, the equipment will allow the remaining firefighters to provide an air supplement hookup to the stranded person so they can continue to breathe while the rescue takes place.
"Our first responders put their lives on the line every day across Ohio. These funds ensure that firefighters in East Palestine have the resources they need to perform their jobs safely," Brown said in the release.