Conn. fire chief says grant needed to replace SCBA

He says the department's current breathing air packs do not meet current standards and are near the end of their life expectancy

By Brian McCready
The New Haven Register

MILFORD, Conn. — The Fire Department hopes to obtain 45 new self- contained breathing apparatus with a federal grant, but taxpayers would have to pay $57,945 of the $289,725 cost.

Fire Chief Louis LaVecchia said the air packs have a life expectancy of 15 years, and the departments' are 14 years old.

LaVecchia said the mask is custom made for each firefighter. The Fire Department is also seeking 69 additional face pieces, one for each firefighter in an effort to comply with federal guidelines.

"It's such a large-ticket item," LaVecchia said. "It could not be funded through the city budget."

The fire chief said the department's air packs do not meet current standards. He said the new masks allow firefighters to see how much air is left from inside the apparatus.

He said firefighters from all over the country will review the grant applications, and then conduct an electronic screening before narrowing the list of applicants. The chief said the grant will only be awarded if firefighters believe the grant is a true need, and that includes whether a community has the ability to pay for them.

LaVecchia said Milford should know within six months whether it will receive the federal grant. "If we don't get it, we will look to apply next year or to come to the Board of Aldermen for the full amount," the fire chief said.

The chief said the department annually tests the air packs to ensure they are safe.

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