FARMINGDALE – Municipal officials hope to receive a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that would be used to purchase new firefighting equipment.
FEMA offers an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG). Councilman Michael Romano said Farmingdale representatives will attend a FEMA grant writing seminar on July 26.
FEMA staff members do not write a grant; that is the requirement of the fire department or fire company that is applying for funding.
Romano, who is a retired firefighter, recently informed his fellow members of the Farmingdale Borough Council that by next year certain firefighting equipment will need to be replaced.
Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units that are used by firefighters have a recommended lifespan of 15 years. The Farmingdale Fire Department’s current equipment is in its 14th year, according to Romano.
A SCBA unit can cost $1,600, according to Romano. The fire department has 18 SCBA units. Replacing those units at one time would cost almost $30,000.
Each SCBA unit has a time limit and although a unit may be rated for 45 minutes, that time may be less when it is in use, he said.
Fire Chief Paul Heaton said that when an SCBA is in use, the 45-minute rating may average 30 to 35 minutes for a firefighter who is in shape and performing activities such as laying a hose line, pulling out windows and taking down a ceiling.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that turnout gear – coats, boots, helmets, etc. – be replaced every 10 years. A set of turnout gear may cost upward of $2,300.
“I have a problem with that (recommendation). We are a small town, how many fires have we had? What is the wear (on the turnout gear)?” Romano said. “It is difficult when the NFPA makes a recommendation, but it is not a law.”
According to Romano, Farmingdale’s firefighters may be able to continue using the turnout gear they have, since replacing the equipment is a recommendation and not a mandate.
The Farmingdale Fire Department is made up of 15 volunteers, including the chief, assistant chief, lieutenant and captain, according to Heaton.