City firefighters net large grant

Hood River firefighters will soon be operating even more safely and efficiently — thanks to a sizable federal grant.

The city department is slated to receive $255,000 from the Assistance to Firefighter Grant Program that is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The local department is one of 6,400 across the nation that have received almost $478 million in funding allocated for Homeland Security. The money is intended to support the role of the first responder in the neighborhoods and communities where they serve either as paid staff or volunteers.

Hood River Fire Capt. Clay McCrea said the federal dollars will have a 10 percent local match of $28,367. He said the top priority for $189,000 of the funding is to replace 25 of the aging self-contained breathing apparatus packs and accessories. That equipment was given to the department last year when Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue received grant funds to purchase new gear.

In addition, he said $65,000 will be used to install a system to vent exhaust fumes from the station when engines are idling. Another $25,000 will be used to replace a deteriorating sprinkler system inside the buildings and $5,500 will be spent on a new machine to clean smoke-inundated turnouts. The final $7,500 will be added to existing funds for the purchase of portable radios for use by the 18 volunteers and 15 paid firefighters.

“This money definitely comes at a good time, a lot of our equipment is outdated and now can be replaced — it’s not very often that you get a quarter of a million dollars given to you,” McCrea said.

On Sunday, Fire Chief Don Petito will also receive $3,000 from the Hood River Lions Club to buy personal protective equipment for his crew. The latest grant awards follow $28,000 of federal money in 2002 for turnouts and a new tank for the brush truck and $11,700 in 2001 for equipment to aid in the battle against wildland fires.

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