A federal grant will help the Sayville Fire Department stock up on and supply filtered, compressed air to volunteers handling emergencies.
The $45,050 for a breathing air replenishment system was allocated through the firefighters' assistance program under the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced Thursday.
The replenishment system gives firefighters the ability to refill the self-contained breathing apparatus bottles -- those roughly 2-foot-long tubes carried on their backs. The system of hoses and filters sits in the station, sucks in air, filters out contaminants and compresses clean air into the bottles that firefighters need for carbon monoxide alarms, hazardous spills and training exercises, as well as fires.
The Sayville district's current system, purchased used years ago, has been breaking down due to age, department spokeswoman Wendy Liu said.
"It's 20 years old and beyond its useful life," she said. "The manufacturer indicated we should replace the system. Repairs are costly and to the point that the integrity of the system isn't there."
She said the department applied for the funds last year.
Gillibrand called the grant an "important investment," saying in a news release, "It's our responsibility to ensure that our first responders have a safe working environment and the most up-to-date equipment so they can respond to emergencies efficiently and effectively."
Schumer agreed, saying the grant "means that first responders will be better equipped to quickly and safely respond to emergencies in the region."
The new system will make it easier for the Sayville fire department to fulfill its responsibility as part of a multi-district cooperative that shares an Air Van. It's a truck with an air refill station and 30 spare air cylinders.
Sayville, West Sayville, Bohemia and Bayport fire districts take turns refilling the Air Van with their in-house systems. When there's an emergency, the Air Van is driven to the scene in case firefighters use up their bottled air and need replacements.