Elizabethton Fire Dept. awarded $22,500 in federal grant money

By Julie Fann

The Elizabethton Fire Department was awarded a $22,500 grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency yesterday. Gov. Don Sundquist said 10 community fire departments will receive more than $500,000 for fire operations and safety.
   "These awards represent a significant investment in fire service delivery in Tennessee," Sundquist said. "I know that the dedicated front-line firefighters appreciate the support and the training opportunities that these funds will provide."
   EFD Chief Mike Shouse said the funds will be used to purchase a new breathing air compressor, a piece of machinery that forces air into a compact measurement for storage bottles, or air tanks.
   "It's quite an expensive piece of machinery. It will probably end up being a 14 cubic feet per minute compressor," Shouse said. The compressor will be used to fill tanks not only for EFD firefighters but also for all county volunteer fire departments.
   "We do that at no charge. A lot of times we'll fill eight to 10 bottles after a good-sized structure fire," said Shouse.
   The individual tanks firefighters strap to their backs hold approximately 30 minutes of air. However, according to Shouse, that amount varies depending on the amount of physical exertion required on site.
   "It's extremely difficult to determine the amount of air needed because of the adrenaline and exertion factor. The more strenuous the activity, the more air you use, so you have to train people to control their breathing as much as possible," Shouse said.
   More than 19,500 fire departments - volunteer and career - applied for federal grants this year, submitting requests totaling almost $2.2 billion. A list of all current award recipients is located at www.usfa.fema.gov/grants.