ROGERS CITY -The Rogers City Area Fire Department Authority will receive a grant of $95,760 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to purchase new self-contained breathing equipment.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program award was announced in a release from the offices of Michigan's two senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. Rogers City's fire department is one of eight to get a grant, and others range from $28,837 for Mellen Township Fire Department to $950,000 for the Albion Department of Public Safety.
Fire Chief Mike Kroll said the money will go toward buying 17 air packs, the equipment firefighters use to breathe in smoke-filled buildings. Right now, the department has five different models, each with its own kind of mask.
"If they're not clipped with the pack, the exact pack, it's very time consuming to put on the pack and try and find the right mask," he said.
On top of that, the department's air packs are getting old, Kroll said. Most of them are 20 years old or older, so they're reaching the limits of their useful life.
"We have to get with the times," he said.
For a department with an annual budget of around $260,000, getting a grant of nearly $100,000 is "very big," Kroll said. Without it, the department would have had to purchase replacement air packs a little at a time.
"Manufacturers are changing and updating models all the time, so if we can get a lot, say 17 in one shot, we're good, everything's going to stay the same," he said.
The department applied for the grant in the fall of 2012, Kroll said. To do so, it received help from Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant writers. The department has applied unsuccessfully for equipment grants in the past, and it's the first time since Kroll became chief in 2010 it will receive one.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant is aimed at helping fire departments pay for gear, training and vehicles necessary to protect the public and firefighters from fire, according to FEMA. Grants have been awarded annually since the program's inception in 2001.