Quinwood Vol. Fire Dept. awarded grant for the purchase of new self-contained breathing units

By Matthew Young, RealWV

QUINWOOD, W.Va. – The Quinwood Volunteer Fire Department, along with six other first-response departments throughout West Virginia, will soon be receiving much needed funding through the federal government’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program.  

In a Wednesday statement, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said of the funding, “Our brave firefighters risk their lives everyday to protect our communities, and we must ensure that they have the necessary equipment and resources to do their job safely and effectively.”

Quinwood will receive $110,263 of the $2,152,439 awarded in AFG grants. First response departments in Webster Springs, Blacksville, Marlinton, Terra Alta, Capon Springs, and Cool Springs have also been awarded funding. 

According to Quinwood Volunteer Fire Chief Dwane Hellums, the funding will be used for the purchase of 13 SCBAs – otherwise known as Self Contained Breathing Apparatuses. 

“We’re going to replace our old, very outdated units,” Hellums told RealWV on Wednesday. “Each (new) unit will have an additional mask, and some other accessories, like batteries and chargers.”

An individual SCBA for use in firefighting can cost upwards of $7,000, which is a price far higher than SCBAs used for other applications, such as waste management or paper processing. The significant difference in cost is due to the need for firefighting equipment to meet much stricter performance requirements. 

An explanation provided by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) states that, “A firefighter’s breathing apparatus obviously must be heat and flame-resistant. They’re designed to be lighter and allow as much range of motion as possible. Particularly, they must be designed to allow firefighters to carry a rescued person over their shoulders. These requirements and other safety features make firefighting SCBAs more expensive than some industrial models.”

In addition to the AFG program awards, the cities of Huntington and Wheeling received grants in the amounts of $183,196 and $49,111 respectively, through the Fire Prevention and Safety program. Both grant programs are facilitated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

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