Alton Fire Department receiving federal grant to get new air pac -

Alton Fire Department receiving federal grant to get new air packs

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An air pack on an Alton firefighter (Credit: KMOV) An air pack on an Alton firefighter (Credit: KMOV)

ALTON, Ill. ( -- A Metro East fire department has been working to fight fires with equipment not meeting federal fire codes, but with a new federal grant that will soon change.

Firefighters in Alton have been using a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), or air pack, since 2001 that has failed to meet standards set by the National Fire Protection Association.

Alton Fire Chief Bernie Sebold said the standards are not mandated by law, but a $108,000 grant will help his firefighters feel safer.

“Our firefighters’ safety is paramount. They have to feel safe in the equipment that we provide for them to utilize here to rescue victims, to extinguish fires, to provide a safer community for the city of Alton,” said Sebold.

The air packs protect firefighters’ respiratory tract by supplying clean air to their lungs so they can enter a smoke-filled building to extinguish a fire, or even stop a chemical leak.                 

Sebold said the new packs will give firefighters advanced notice of when they’re going to be running out of air, helping them escape from a burning building faster.

“Obviously we want our firefighters to have the most up-to-date equipment to provide for their safety and the safety of people we are going in to rescue,” said Sebold. “So one of the technological advances are that the alarm on the SCBA alarms at 33% of the air supply that’s left as opposed to 25 percent that’s left.”

The grant allows the Alton Fire Department to get 16 new air packs. The total cost is $119,000, valued at $7,000 each.

The grant awards $108,182, Sebold said the city will cover the remaining $10,818.

Sebold expects the air packs to be in by January 2017.

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