Funding will supply Self Contained Breathing Apparatus to meet department’s critical need
As a public safety agency, the Price Fire Department knows a thing or two about responding to dire circumstances. But earlier this month, department members were thrilled to be the ones receiving assistance to address a critical need of their own.
On Nov. 9, a team from the State of Utah presented a check for $150,000 to the Price Fire Department to purchase new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBAs) – air tanks as they are commonly called – that will replace aging and insufficient equipment currently in service.
Those existing units have been a concern for Price Fire Chief Fitz Peterson since the day he interviewed for his job. “The thing that shocked the most as I learned about the department was their SCBAs,” Peterson noted. “I was shocked, and I was appalled.”
Not only were there too few units to outfit all department firefighters, the company that manufactured them had discontinued SCBA production. “We have to Ebay parts for repairs,” Peterson said.
During his tenure, Peterson pursued grants to address the need but was never able to nail down funding. And when the solution did appear, it materialized in an unlikely manner.
Peterson said he was meeting with Tamara Dockstader, Community Development Program Manager for the Southeast Utah Association of Local Governments, to discuss other issues. When their meeting concluded, Dockstader asked in passing if there was anything else the fire department needed. Peterson told her about his SCBA problem. She agreed to research the issue and eventually applied to the State of Utah’s Community Development Block Grant program. Her efforts proved successful and resulted in the check delivery presentation earlier this month.
“The State of Utah Community Development Block Grant program provides grants to cities of fewer than 50,000 people and counties of fewer than 200,000,” said Sarah Nielson, public information officer with the State of Utah. “The purpose of the small cities program is to assist in developing viable communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment and expanding economic opportunities, principally for persons of low and moderate incomes.”
Nielson noted the grant was awarded to Price City for the new firefighting equipment. “SCBA equipment is crucial for firefighters entering dangerous environments, such as fires or hazardous spills, ensuring they can breathe safely,” she said. “Facing a dilemma between safety and operational duties due to SCBA equipment loss, Price City made an emergency application to the CDBG program, securing approval from the Southeastern CDBG Rating and Ranking Committee and the State CDBG Policy Committee. Following permission, the CDBG team promptly facilitated the purchase of 32 new SCBA units with associated equipment for $150,000.”
“This is huge to us,” Peterson said. “The new SCBAs that are coming are the best available, in my opinion. This is critical equipment. Firefighters can’t go anywhere near a confined space without one of these units.”
Price City officials also were on hand Nov. 9 to celebrate during the state check presentation event.
“We are very appreciative for this program coming to our aid,” said Price Mayor Mike Kourianos. “We wouldn’t be able to achieve this alone. We don’t have that kind of money just laying around.”
Kourianos also expressed the city’s thanks to Dockstader. “For someone to be willing to help like this sends a strong message to agencies, like the fire department, that care for others.”