March 5, 2012
Cañon City firefighters receive grant to boost Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus packs
By CARIE CANTERBURY canterburyc@ cañoncitydailyrecord.com
They are on the frontlines of fires, emergencies and hazardous materials situations.
To do their jobs safely and efficiently, firefighters have a whole lot of gear they are required to use -- but it doesn't come cheap.
Thanks to a $142,949 grant, the Cañon City Area Fire Protection District can replace protective equipment that is due to expire, add to their existing inventory and provide training and certification to full-time paid personnel, as well as the volunteers within the fire district.
The grant is part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the Department of Homeland Security; and the U.S. Fire Administration.
Fire Chief David DelVecchio said 15 new pack assemblies soon will be purchased to beef up the number of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus packs available on emergency scenes. One entire air pack assembly costs between $5,000 and $6,000, and includes the backpack assembly, a mask and two cylinders. The packs are required anytime firefighters are in a hazardous atmosphere -- including smoke, an oxygen deficient atmosphere, or a hazardous materials response.
Public Information Officer Lt. Shane Roberts said the individual cylinders are refilled at the station with compressed normal atmospheric air, but the life expectancy of each cylinder is about 15 years. The grant will pay for 12 new 1-hour bottles and 12 new 45-minute bottles, which cost about $1,000 each.
The bottles have 4,500 pounds per square inch of air, Roberts said, and are mounted in the trucks and ready to go when the fire bell rings.
"The SCBAs are going to increase the overall safety of our firefighters operating at the emergency scenes by providing that added respiratory protection," DelVecchio said. "We've also found ourselves several times where we didn't have enough SCBAs on the emergency scene, so we would have firefighters standing around not able to go into a building because they did not have an SCBA available for them."
The grant is a 90/10 cost share.
"The federal government is picking up 90 percent of that, and the district will pay 10 percent of that which is $14,294," he said.
"The reason we pursue this entire process is to be good stewards of the district's money and with financial times the way they are, we're searching for any additional funding source that we can find," Roberts said. "It's a little bit if effort to go through the grant process, but it is certainly well worth it whenever you can be handed this amount of money that doesn't come out of our operating budget."
Roberts said most smaller fire departments rely heavily on such grants to help offset the costs of equipment and training.
"The training aspect of this grant is going to bring all of our firefighters -- paid and volunteer -- up to a nationally recognized standard of certification for Firefighter 1, levels one and two," he said, "and the same nationally recognized level of certification for Fire Apparatus Driver/Operator."
Including DelVecchio, there are 30 paid fire personnel and about 20 volunteers. Local firefighters responded to 3,007 calls in 2011, he said.
"They have been increasing by several hundred runs just about every year," DelVecchio said.
January 30, 2009
Open burning permits required inside city fire district boundaries
The Daily Record
In an effort to create a safer environment, the Cañon City Area Fire Protection District now is requiring open burning permits inside its boundaries.
“We wanted to have a little better control over open burning,” said Chief Dan Brixey.
Permits are free of charge and take only minutes to obtain from either fire station.
“This is a tool we can utilize to make certain regulations are followed,” Brixey said.
In addition to the permit, each applicant also will receive a copy of all local burning regulations. Confined to a single page, the regulations are not lengthy but are important, Brixey said.
Open burning is permitted only with agricultural sources and during daylight hours. No burning is allowed within 50 feet of a structure, and a garden hose connected to a water supply or other approved fire-extinguishing equipment must be available at all times.
In addition, the person responsible for burning must call the fire department office each day, before lighting the fire, to obtain permission depending on current fire conditions.
Other regulations are spelled out in the permit. The permit is issued per user, who must be on site and may be responsible for burns at different addresses at different times. The permit must be on that person during each burn.
“We’ll utilize this to help better control open burning, so hopefully it doesn’t get away from people,” Brixey said. “That has been a problem in the past.”
The permit will be good for one calendar year and must be renewed at the beginning of each year. Failure to obtain a permit is a violation of the Fire Code, but Brixey said the first year will be a learning tool. The department is not looking to write violations.
“The fire district recognizes that the permit process is new, and would like to provide this information prior to the spring burning season,” Brixey said. ““Burning is a privilege, not necessarily a right.” Many other communities do not allow open burning within their boundaries.
“With that privilege comes responsibility that you don’t burn your neighbor out of his house and home.”
Permits are available from Fire Station 1 at 1475 N. 15th St., and Fire Station 2, 1349 Elm Ave. For more information on the required permits or open burning, call the main fire house at 275-8666.