Fire depts. seeking funding to replace aging SCBAs
A priority for the fire departments is getting new self-containing breathing apparatuses that provide fire crews with fresh air while firefighting
By Ernest Rollins
MONROE COUNTY, Ind. — Five local fire departments are requesting funding to replace aging breathing equipment for their crews.
A priority for the fire departments is getting new self-containing breathing apparatuses that provide fire crews with fresh air while firefighting.
Many fire officials report that parts of this type of equipment will soon expire. Township fire departments joined forces to apply for a grant to purchase the equipment, but that grant request was denied.
"This is something they use when they go into a fire," Van Buren Township Trustee Rita Barrow said. "We just really need to make sure our equipment is up to date."
Barrow said as departments try to find a way to replace the equipment, she would like to see officials consider purchasing in bulk again to help reduce the price.
The Van Buren Township, Benton Township, Ellettsville, Perry-Clear Creek and Bean Blossom Township Stinesville fire departments are seeking a share of this year's public safety local income tax dollars to address the equipment needs, in addition to personnel.
Combined, the departments are requesting around $1.6 million.
In their application for funding, Bean Blossom Township officials said having similar equipment across the departments makes sense, because departments regularly respond together on mutual and automatic aid calls.
"Firefighters being familiar and efficiently capable to swap face pieces and air bottles is beyond crucial in operations where seconds in a hazardous environment matter," officials wrote. "Getting the funds from PS-LIT (public safety local income tax) will help us as a whole and allow the purchase of the current standard to be achievable."
A committee of the Monroe County Local Income Tax Council will meet this week to review the fire departments' requests. The committee makes recommendations to the Monroe County Local Income Tax Council -- which includes the fiscal bodies of Bloomington, Monroe County, Ellettsville and Stinesville -- on whether to allocate a share of the public safety local income tax dollars to the township fire departments.
Last year, no funding was granted for any of the fire departments' specific requests. Instead, the tax revenue went to support the dispatch center's project to improve communication systems among the townships.
The dispatch center is one of the recipients of public safety local income tax dollars, and its budget is usually weighed against the local fire departments' requests by the committee.
The proposed 2019 dispatch center budget is $4.4 million, with around $2.93 million of that amount being requested from public safety local income tax dollars.
At this time, there is no estimate of how much public safety local income tax revenue the county will receive next year. Last year, the county received around $7.8 million.
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