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Brandon Fire Department wins $120K grant for equipment



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June 18, 2014 - Brandon Twp.- The third time was the charm.

For the third year in a row, the fire department bid for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant, and their persistence finally paid off— to the tune of more than $120,000.

On Friday, June 13, the department was notified they would be awarded a grant of $127,499 to replace self-contained breathing apparatuses.

"We are excited that we can purchase new equipment to enter a building safely," said Fire Chief David Kwapis. "That's huge. It's nice to see a smaller community like ours benefit from a federal grant. It helps ease the financial burden in these economically strapped times."

Sgt. Billy Starr said this was the third year in a row the department applied for the grant, refining it every year and bringing in a grant writer this year at a cost of $1,000 to improve their chances. The expenditure paid off, with Starr compiling research and working with the grant writer to obtain the grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA will provide 95 percent of the funds, or $121,125, with the department responsible for a five percent match of $6,374. The money will purchase 20-22 self-contained breathing apparatuses, replacing about 20 of the department's current packs, which were compliant in 1997 and no longer meet safety standards.

"We really needed these, we have needed them for a couple years," said Starr, who is working on applying for more grants for equipment. "They are 14-years-old and the parts are hard to find and the air bottles were going to have to be replaced. It's a good feeling to be getting something we didn't have the money for."

Kwapis said he will likely have to obtain bids for the apparatuses, which gives firefighters breathing air when they fight fires. Fire department staff will evaluate equipment from manufacturers, with an eye on performance, fit, and ease of use.

Firefighters should have the new apparatuses by this fall.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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