Lugoff Fire-Rescue (LF-R) recently received another large federal grant award from the FEMA AFG Grant Program for $74,780. The funds were awarded to purchase a new 6,000 psi (pounds per square inch) breathing air compressor and fill station to be installed at LF-R headquarters. The current breathing air compressor is more than 20 years old with numerous repair issues resulting in large repair costs and time out of service. The current system also limits firefighters to only 4,500 psi of breathing air where all the new trucks carrying breathing air fill systems are rated at 6,000 psi.
“I received a call from U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s Office on a Tuesday letting me know that our grant award would be made and announced the following Friday. That is a phone call we always appreciate getting to let us know we have federal grant funds coming back to the Lugoff Community,” LF-R Chief Dennis Ray said.
LF-R is currently seeking proposals for a new system from various vendors and will be performing minor station renovations in order to accommodate the new equipment. The new equipment will include a 3-4 cylinder containment compartment, a 15-20 horsepower motor, a hose reel to fill mobile cascade fill systems, storage for four (4) 6,000 psi storage cylinders, and capability for Class E breathing air to fill dive cylinders. LF-R staff plan to have the new system installed, in service, and staff training competed in the fall of 2017.
“We have been submitting for this same grant for several years with no success until this year,” Ray noted. “We do not give up easily. This equipment will provide our firefighters a continuous supply of breathing air for all of our cylinders and refill systems on our apparatus. Several other departments and industrial fire brigades in the county also use our compressor to fill its cylinders and air refill systems; so this new equipment will benefit their operations as well. This grant is another example of our success in following through with our promise to our board of fire commissioners, county council and our taxpayers to seek additional funding in as many areas as possible other than normal tax revenue to fulfill the demands of our mission. The timing of this grant is perfect at an especially challenging time for us this budget year from another reduction in tax revenues and significantly increased expenses beyond our control; the most challenging budget I have faced in the seven years I have been chief of the department.”
LF-R has received $1.127 million in federal grant funds to date for equipment, training, hiring new firefighters, hiring a volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention coordinator, and funds for the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. This fund total does not include other national, state and local grant awards received in the past seven years.