Firefighters in four Skagit County fire districts as well as in the city of Burlington can breathe easier now that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded them about $700,000 in grant money for the purchase of new air tanks.
“For us alone, in our department, we have 14 air packs we have to replace, which is about $145,000 we would have to come up with out of our budget,” said Chief David Skrinde, whose District 14 serves Alger. “Our budgets are very tight and small.”
The other fire districts included are 2 (west of Mount Vernon), 6 (west of Burlington) and 12 (Bayview).
According to a news release, these fire districts provide fire, rescue, emergency medical and hazardous materials response to nearly 20,000 residents from six unmanned volunteer stations and one manned one.
The combined 94 air tanks will standardize the tools used by these departments, which will help their ability to respond in tandem.
“So all of the participating departments there have agreed they’re going to purchase a particular manufacturer,” Skrinde said. “So we don’t have brand ‘x’ over here, brand ‘y’ over here. It’s all the same because we all respond together.”
According to the news release, which was issued by District 6 Chief Paul Wagner, grants such as these help save the taxpayers money.
“The agencies are constantly pursuing alternative funding sources which lessen the burden on our local taxpayers,” the release states.
These air packs have a roughly 10-year lifespan, according to Skrinde.