MASON — A dozen new self-contained breathing apparatus units have been received by the Mason Volunteer Fire Department, paid mostly by a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant.
According to Fire Chief Howard Wood, the department purchased the 12 air packs, along with 24 extra tanks, after receiving $78,761 through FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. The department’s local share added nearly $4,000 to the total.
The grant announcement was made in October 2020 by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. While the air packs were ordered soon after the arrival of the grant money, they were just delivered this week.
Wood said the air packs will replace older ones the department has now. Each tank contains a breathing time of approximately 45 minutes, he added.
The chief said air tanks are required by the state for each department. There must be the same number of air packs on board a vehicle as there are seats, so Mason’s largest engine requires six.
The new units operate by battery, and an attachment shows the battery life, as well as the amount of air left in the tank. They also have voice amplified microphone speakers, Wood said, that will make it easier for firefighters to communicate while wearing them.
Mason was among seven departments across the state that received the grants. Others included the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association, West Virginia University, Kermit Volunteer Fire Department, City of Belington, Ranson Independent Fire Company No. 1, and Chapmanville Volunteer Fire Department.
The Mason department consists of approximately 18 active members, and is always taking applications, Wood said. Applicants must be 16 years old to become a junior fireman, and 18 to become a firefighter.
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