Fire department to seek grant for breathing apparatus

Firefighters wearing SCBAs at a car fire last year (photo courtesy of the Southborough Fire Department)

Fire Chief John Mauro Jr. told selectmen on Tuesday night that self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) are “literally the lifeline” of firefighters responding to fires, hazmat situations, carbon monoxide leaks, and the like. He also told selectmen some of Southborough’s SCBAs no longer meet current safety standards.

Mauro was at the board meeting seeking approval from selectmen to apply for a federal grant to replace 20 of Southborough’s SCBAs. The selectmen gave it unanimously.

The cost of replacing 20 units would be $96K. If the town gets the grant, the federal government would cover 95% of the cost. The town would need to pony up the remaining 5%, a total of $4,800.

Southborough currently has about 30 SCBAs, 16 of which were purchased new in the early-to-mid 1990’s. The remainder were refurbished or assembled from gathered parts.

Mauro said many of the units lack a gauge in the face mask to tell firefighters how much air is left, and many cannot be used to “share the air” with firefighters who might be in trouble. Both of those are now required safety standards.

Mauro said it could take up to a year for the grant to be approved.

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