May 5, 2011 in Washington Voices

Federal grant for gear helps Fire District 8

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Spokane County Fire District 8 south of Spokane Valley was recently awarded a $315,000 grant that will be used to replace aging breathing apparatus.

The grant was awarded by the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants program. The department will pitch in about $35,000 for its required 10 percent match, said Deputy Chief Lonnie Rash. The money will purchase 66 self-contained breathing apparatus, which are the airpacks that provide firefighters with breathable air in dangerous atmospheres – enough for the entire district. “It will be a complete redo for the organization,” Rash said. “It’s a huge safety and training issue for us.”

The district’s old SCBA’s are eight years old and are no longer supported by the manufacturer for repairs. The equipment needed to be replaced soon and getting the grant will allow the district to avoid dipping into its capital replacement fund, Rash said. The district would have had to spend that money “in the next 18 months,” he said. “That would have taken a huge chunk out of that.”

The capital replacement fund is also used to purchase new fire engines. Rash noted that the Spokane Valley Fire Department recently spent $500,000 on a new engine. If the district had been forced to replace the breathing equipment on its own it would have meant a delay in replacing an engine in the future, he said.

As part of keeping an eye on the bottom line, the district also recently refinanced bonds approved by voters in 2000. The bonds were used to purchase land, build a new station and buy new equipment. The annual interest rate was cut by more than half, saving taxpayers an estimated $480,000.

Fire District 8 serves 110 square miles south of Spokane and Spokane Valley, including Freeman, Valleyford and Mica. It also serves all or portions of the Moran, Glenrose, Hangman, Bella Vista, Saltese, Ponderosa and Painted Hills neighborhoods.


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