Community

Fire district gets $269,000 for equipment

FEMA Deputy Regional Administrator Dennis Hunsinger presents a grant check to Fire District 3 as Chief Dan Stout, Fire Commissioner Mike Helland and Deputy Chief Jon Beck look on. - Photo courtesy Michael Kundu
FEMA Deputy Regional Administrator Dennis Hunsinger presents a grant check to Fire District 3 as Chief Dan Stout, Fire Commissioner Mike Helland and Deputy Chief Jon Beck look on.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Michael Kundu

FEMA money to help replace outdated gear

Firefighters will be able to breathe a little easier now that Fire District 3 received more than $269,000 from the federal government for new gear last week.

In late January, the Federal Emergency Management Agency through its Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, awarded the district $269,155 for operations and safety equipment.

The agency visited the island last week to present the district with a large check that when cashed, will be used to purchase 50 self-contained breathing apparatus.

“This new breathing apparatus will also assure that we are providing our firefighters with the best possible safety equipment,” said Fire District 3 Chief Dan Stout.

The Assistance to Firefighters program started in 2001 and was designed to improve operational safety across the country for fire departments, FEMA officials said.

“Since 2001, when the program was initiated, more than $3.4 billion in grants have been awarded,” said FEMA spokesman Michael Kundu. “Grant awards go out weekly. It’s critical and these are merit-based grants.”

This past year, more than 21,000 requests for grant money were received by FEMA.

Fire District 3’s rural nature offered a keen competitive edge over some of the other applicants, he said.

“Some of their equipment is old and so this is absolutely essential. Their SCBAs were outdated and this will make them a lot more confident in their equipment,” Kundu said. “We try to best return taxpayers’ dollars; money in the form of grants to communities that need funds to keep its citizens safe.”

The program also gives the federal government a way to help local communities be more prepared in the event of an emergency, he said.

“From the overall federal level, we see these grants as a way to strengthen homeland security preparedness; specifically by strengthening our critical infrastructure,” Kundu said.

Spencer Webster can be reached at 221-5300 or swebster@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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