Grant equals new air packs

Naugatuck Second Assistant Fire Chief Paul Russell holds up a Scott Air-Pak from the 1980s. The department recently received a grant to purchase 16 new air packs. –LUKE MARSHALL

Naugatuck Second Assistant Fire Chief Paul Russell holds up a Scott Air-Pak from the 1980s. The department recently received a grant to purchase 16 new air packs. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — Borough firefighters will be able to breathe a little easier now that new air packs are on the way.

The Naugatuck Fire Department has received a $97,920 grant to buy new air packs. The borough’s share of the grant is $8,901. The Joint Board of Mayor and Burgesses and Board of Finance on Tuesday approved transferring the money from contingency to cover the borough’s share.

The grant will allow the department to replace 16 Scott Air-Paks, some of which date back to the 1980s. An air pack is a self-contained breathing apparatus that is used to help firefighters breathe while fighting fires or in situations, such as a hazardous materials spill, where the air might not be safe to breathe. The department currently has 42 air packs.

“The air packs we have now are obsolete. We are cannibalizing them to keep them going. We can’t get parts for them anymore, so we really do need the new air packs,” interim Fire Chief Ellen Murray told the Board of Mayor and Burgess at the Sept. 1 meeting.

Murray said the department needs to have enough air packs to cover every seat on every vehicle, as well as spare ones.

The department applied for the grant last year, but didn’t receive the funding. This year the department originally asked for money to buy 24 air packs, but received enough for 16.

If not for the grant, Murray said, the department would have had to put the cost of the air packs in next year’s budget.

The grant application was put together and submitted by former Fire Chief Ken Hanks, who retired on Aug. 28.

“We got the award letter on Chief Hanks’ last day, and I know he worked very hard. It’s been a two-year project for this grant,” Murray said.

The department expects to receive the new air packs in two to three months, Murray said.