Fire and rescue grant funds new firefighting equipment

The Valley Banner

HARRISONBURG — There’s little room for error in an emergency, and Rockingham County Fire and Rescue is trying to minimize mistakes.

The county received 120 self-contained breathing apparatus last week as part of an ongoing effort to standardize equipment.

Fire and Rescue Chief Jeremy Holloway said the equipment was paid for through a $747,000 grant from the federal Assistance to Firefighters grants program. It includes a 10 percent local match.

Personnel are assembling the 120 pieces of equipment, which are used to provide oxygen to crews during fires, at the East Rockingham Emergency Services station in McGaheysville.

Holloway said Timberville and Hose Company No. 4 already had the equipment through the standardization effort, which was expected to take 10 years after it started around three years ago.

The grant allows the county to expedite the replacement process and allow departments to use the same equipment, which was recommended in a study conducted by the Virginia Fire Services Board in November 2015.

The new SCBAs should be distributed to the remaining stations by the middle of May.

Holloway said that when crews show up to a fire, they may need to use a different station’s equipment, which could cost time.

“If you’re not used to using something it doesn’t come second nature,” he said. “Now, no matter what fire engine or ambulance, if they grab an [SCBA] off it, it’ll be the exact same one they’re used to.”

Holloway said duty officers also will have a computer in their vehicle that monitors oxygen levels.

The SCBAs are a newer version of the ones used by the Harrisonburg Fire Department, Holloway said. When HFD next updates its equipment, the city and county could be using the same equipment, which would make coordination easier.

“Our operation will be able to be seamless,” he said. “If you’re not used to using something it doesn’t come second nature.”

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