By MIKE ANTHONY
The Mehlville Fire Protection District has been awarded a grant totaling $349,208 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Chief Brian Hendricks told the Board of Directors Wednesday — Feb. 22.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant will be used to purchase new self-contained breathing apparatus, or SCBA, devices for the district’s firefighters.
“ As you know, when you work with the federal government there’s a whole lot of rules. So we’re going to make sure that we do everything by the numbers,” he said, adding that he and Assistant Chief Dan LaFata “have already built the program that we are going to use to evaluate these SCBAs.”
The grant was awarded Feb. 17 and the district has one year to purchase the equipment, according to Hendricks.
“I do anticipate this being a 10-month process. I certainly don’t want to rush this,” the chief said. “This is a 15-year marriage between our firefighters and their single-most important piece of safety equipment they have.”
Hendricks said a subcommittee of the district’s Operational Review Committee will be established “to assist us in the evaluation. We are going use our new House 3. We are currently designing an SCBA confidence course that will be used. It will be the type of course that will be ever-changing, meaning we’re going to build it modular so we can change it up so our personnel don’t memorize the course.
“It’s going to be a multilevel prop that we’re going to use over the next 10 months. We are also going to utilize House 3 and the training facility that we have for all of our ladder work ,” he said, noting work will start once the district takes possession of the new firehouse at 4811 S. Lindbergh Blvd., which is nearing completion.
Regarding the SCBA purchase, Hendricks said, “We are going to have three or four main manufacturers come in and do presentations, followed by testing. I’ll keep the board informed as we move forward in the process. But this is a significant amount of money and we certainly are deserving of it
“The thing that we’re really happy about is that it does help our budget for the years to come. This is like buying a fire truck (in terms of cost) ”
Board Secretary Ed Ryan said, “Very good, chief. That’s fantastic. Congratulations ”