“We are very pleased that our grant application has been approved,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski, in reference to the $365,000 Assistance to Firefighters Grant awarded to The City of Allentown for new self-contained breathing apparatuses. “Nothing is more important than public safety. Since 2006, we have made tremendous strides in improving our firefighting capability and enhancing the safety of our firefighters,” he added.
The funding for the new breathing apparatuses (Scott Air Paks) comes from the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Out of the 43 Assistance to Firefighters grants awarded by FEMA, Allentown was given the highest allocation.
The air paks are assigned to city fire engines, with each firefighter receiving their own mask. Interim Allentown Fire Chief Bob Kudlak stated, “We are buying 74 of these units. They will be replacing our current 10-year-old equipment. The existing units were compliant with the standards established at that time; since then the standards have been amended in 2008 and 2013. The new units will comply with the standards currently in place. We hope to have these new units in our possession and in service this summer.”
The city has purchased five new fire-fighting vehicles since 2009, including two new engines, one rescue pumper and two 100-foot aerials. Grant funding was secured to install new ventilation systems in every fire station, and the city has purchased the best gear on the market for full body protection; helmets, boots and gloves. In addition, the completely rebuilt East Side Fire Station opened in February.
Interim Chief Kudlak expressed his appreciation for the award, saying, “The Allentown Fire Department is grateful to receive this Assistance to Firefighters Grant. These funds will play an essential role in ensuring that the department is able to purchase upgraded Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses, which provide breathable air to firefighters while they work to contain a blaze. We thank Senator Pat Toomey for his support of the Allentown Fire Department and for his assistance during the AFG process.”