Five Suffolk County fire departments will be splitting a federal grant totaling almost $800,000.

Smithtown, Melville, Kings Park, Halesite and Centerport fire departments will use the funds to upgrade self-contained breathing apparatus for responders.

The apparatus -- called Scott packs, for their manufacturer -- cost close to $6,000 each and will replace soon-to-expire equipment. Each pack contains an oxygen tank and a face mask.

"It's a life safety issue," said Tom Buffa, the Smithtown fire district commissioner and secretary. "Without that pack on your back, you're in big trouble.

Each department will receive a minimum of 25 packs. The timing, Halesite commissioner Bob Waring said, could not be better. "It's exactly what we need because the Scott packs are expiring," he said. "This will pretty much take care of our needs."

The award is from the Assistance to Firefighter Grant Program, an affiliate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Fire districts around the nation compete for grants in the program, based on population and the areas they cover.

Tom Devaney of Williston Park-based JSK Public Safety Consulting Inc., which represented the five departments in their pursuit of the grant, said the award is good news for taxpayers. "This keeps the taxes down and that's the overall goal," he said. Devaney said the award is the largest given by the program since it was established in 2002.

The five districts cover an estimated 84 square miles and more than 150,000 people and have a combined 550 volunteer firefighters, according to JSK. In 2011, the departments responded to about 9,000 fire and emergency response calls combined.

From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book. Credit: Newsday Staff

Elisa DiStefano kick-starts summer with the Fun Book show From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book.

From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book. Credit: Newsday Staff

Elisa DiStefano kick-starts summer with the Fun Book show From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book.

Latest videos

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME