Stevens Point Fire Headquarters at 1701 Franklin St. (Metro Wire photo)

SPFD wins FEMA grant totaling over $228K

By Brandi Makuski

The Stevens Point Fire Department learned this week that it had won its largest grant ever from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The department was awarded a $228,750 grant through FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program to cover the costs of an updated batch of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), also sometimes referred to as an “air pack.” The devices allow firefighters to breathe on the scene of a fire, protecting their airway and lungs from toxic gases and harmful, cancer-causing particulates.

The new batch of SCBAs were delivered to Station No. 1 in January. The grant dollars will replace funding previously doled out of the fire department’s budget. (Courtesy SPFD)

According to Fire Chief Jb Moody, the city is responsible for covering 10 percent, about $22,875, of costs in accordance with the grant application. The city initially budgeted to replace the SCBAs in 2023 via its capital budget, but now, Moody said the highly-competitive grant funding will now loosen up about 60 percent of those anticipated costs.

SPFD took receipt of 35 new MSA-brand SCBAs, each weighing about 16 pounds, in mid-January. The new devices come with a 30-minute, 4,500 psi cylinder, and are lighter, more comfortable, and have longer-lasting, rechargeable batteries.

The department was previously using SCBAs purchased in 2009, also through an AFG grant. The February grant marks the second FEMA award the department has received, although Moody said it’s the largest the SPFD has ever received.

“A lot of people from our department were responsible for this grant application,” Moody said by phone this week. “Our people have put a lot of work into this and it’s paid off.”

Moody added that the grant funding removes a “large burden from the city and taxpayers.”

The new SCBAs are “state-of-the-art,” Moody said, and come with Bluetooth radio communications and “buddy-breathing” capabilities. Each member of the department has their own facepiece.

The department also purchased two rapid intervention packs for firefighters with air management emergencies on a fire scene.

Moody said its the department’s policy to provide the best equipment available whenever possible.

“A significant component of the ‘best’ equipment is that which is the safest,” Moody said in a Thursday email. “This Federal Emergency Management Assistance to Firefighters Grant program has provided the funding to accomplish just that.”