Southborough gets $85K grant to replace firefighting equipment

Southborough firefighters wearing SCBAs at a car fire (photo courtesy of the Southborough Fire Department)

Fire Chief John Mauro Jr. will tell you self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) are “literally the lifeline” of firefighters responding to any number of hazardous situations. He’ll also tell you many of Southborough’s SCBAs no longer meet current safety standards. But that’s about to change.

Southborough was recently awarded $85K under a Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant. Mauro said the money will go toward replacing the town’s aging SCBA equipment. Mauro applied for the grant last May.

Mauro said he had planned to ask for money to replace the equipment as part of his FY2013 budget, but now he won’t have to. In accepting the grant, the town is required to match $4,500. Mauro said that money will come from Harvard University’s annual payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) contribution which is reserved for public safety and public works.

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.

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