Fire grant will improve air tank capacity

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 22, 2001

NATCHEZ – In a fire, just a few minutes can make a big difference.

That’s why a recent grant to the Natchez Fire Department could save lives.

The grant will fund new equipment that will increase the capacity of a firefighter’s air tank from 30 to 45 minutes of air – a big increase when someone’s life is in on the line.

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&uot;It can mean the difference in getting somebody out of a house and having to go out yourself,&uot; said Natchez Fire Chief Gary Winborne.

The $45,500 grant is through the Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters program.

The Natchez Fire Department plans to use the money to replace 18 of its breathing apparatuses under the grant category of personal protection equipment, Winborne said.

The equipment the Natchez Fire Department currently uses is 10 to 20 years in age and the technology has been upgraded about 12 times since much of it was purchased, Winborne said.

The new equipment can also be utilized with the Natchez Fire Department’s existing equipment. &uot;The good part about it is the (air) bottles from the old ones (breathing apparatuses) can be used on these new ones,&uot; Winborne said.

The new equipment will also come installed with a device that sets off an alarm when a firefighter has stayed in one place for too many seconds, Winborne said.

Currently, the firefighters must carry an extra device to have that safeguard, Winborne said.

The Natchez Fire Department was one of 10 rural and urban fire departments in Mississippi – and 320 across the nation – to receive more than $15 million in grants under this program this year. More than 19,000 fire departments across the country applied for the grants. &uot;We were pretty fortunate to get it like I say (because) it was nationwide,&uot; Winborne said.

U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows announced the grant funding Tuesday.

&uot;FEMA’s support of the Natchez Fire Department is a testimony to the professional standards carried out within Natchez concerning fire fighting,&uot; Shows said. &uot;Our families and communities are safer and stronger when we can rest in the knowledge that our fire fighters are equipped to protect our homes and businesses.&uot;