|Grant funding offers a new breath for HFD equipment posted on 02/01/2023|
After an extensive testing and review process of leading
self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), Hoodland Fire District (HFD) has
added new SCBA’s that offer improvements in ease-of-use and ergonomics through
a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Assistance to Firefighters Grant
“The new SCBAs have better visibility,” HFD
Lieutenant/Paramedic Evan Jarvis said. “The mask doesn’t feel as heavy. They’re
a lot more comfortable and easier to wear.”
The fire district was awarded the FEMA grant in August 2021
for the replacement of all the district’s SCBAs. The grants are offered by FEMA
every year since 2001 to provide funding for “critically needed resources
necessary for protecting the public and emergency personnel from fire and
“An SCBA is worn any time we’re working in a IDOH (In Danger
of Hazard) environment,” HFD Division Chief/Fire Marshal/Paramedic Scott Kline
These critical pieces of protective gear were last upgraded
in 2008 and met 2007 standards at the time. The SCBA’s are evaluated for safe
use based on National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards and become
obsolete after approximately 15 years of usage.
“After 2022 (the district’s previous SCBAs) would not meet
the safety standard set forth by the NFPA,” Kline said.
The district acquired the new SCBAs, produced by the company
MSA Safety, in August and began utilizing the new protective gear in November
after a two-month training period.
The training period assured that paid and volunteer staff
would be adequately familiarized with the differences of the new equipment
before having to use them at a major fire event.
“If something happens to the new packs, we wanted to be
prepared to fix the issue,” Jarvis said.
A SCBA consists of a facemask, backpack, straps and an air
bottle. A significant change with the new units is that the voice box and
Bluetooth electronics used for communicating in the field have been shifted
from the mask to the pack, which reduces the weight and strain on the
“The (new) pack is heavier than the old one but feels
lighter due to improved ergonomics,” Jarvis said.
The new packs also have an adjustable lumbar plate to
improve comfort for different height users.
“This is a great feature because firefighters come in all
sizes,” HFD Senior Firefighter/Paramedic Matt Nicholson said.
The air bottles are now attached by quarter-turn
quick-connect as opposed to a threaded attachment.
“This is a huge improvement that we really like,” Jarvis
He added that the quick-connect will allow firefighters to
reduce the time needed to switch out the air bottles during a major fire.
The district tested three leading brands of SCBAs during the
selection process. Paid staff and volunteers drilled with the gear and then
submitted reviews based on a grading system which was then tallied to assure an
The MSA SCBAs substantially won the grading system review
process. The packs also received positive review from neighboring fire districts
that were previously using the gear.
The grant money will enable the district to purchase 31
masks and packs, 62 refillable bottles and ten extra masks.
More information about the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters
Grant program is available online at https://www.fema.gov/grants/preparedness/firefighters.
Hoodland Fire District can be contacted by email at
email@example.com or online at https://www.hoodlandfire.us/.
By Ben Simpson/MT