BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) informed the Village of Ballston Spa Wednesday that the Ballston Spa Fire Department (BSFD) has been awarded an “Assistance to Firefighters Grant” (AFG) after the department recently applied for $168,000 to purchase new SCBAs and more air bottles. The BSFD has been purchasing such equipment bit by bit over the last few years, as the cost of such equipment has increased greatly over the last decade.

“I am thrilled and thankful to FEMA for this grant, as it allows us to address a number of concerns we have had related to the safety of our volunteer firefighters now and in the future,” said BSFD Chief Kevin Krogh. “New SCBAs provide a better layer of protection when our firefighters are asked to run into fire structures to save occupants and protect those structures. I cannot overstate just how important this grant is to our Department and how thankful our members are for our grant writer, Julie Burline, and our local leadership, including Mayor Frank Rossi, Jr., Deputy Mayor and BSFD Liaison Bernadette VanDeinse-Perez, and the other members of our Village’s Board of Trustees.”

Ballston Spa Mayor Frank Rossi, Jr., shared in Chief Krogh’s excitement. “This isn’t about financial savings for our community; this is about the safety of our volunteer firefighters and the members of our community, as they can rest assured that our firefighters will continue to protect them with the knowledge that they have the most up-to-date equipment at their disposal when they need them most at fire scenes. I’d like to thank Julie Burline and Chief Krogh for their tireless work toward achieving this grant for our local heroes, and I also want to thank Senator Chuck Schumer for his support and his work toward the Village of Ballston Spa receiving this important grant.”

Over the last 20 years, FEMA has awarded over $7.7 billion in grant funding geared toward the equipping and training of emergency personnel throughout the country. In the case of the BSFD grant award, the grant application highlighted the need for an increased quantity of new and more modernized SCBAs and bottles needed to provide oxygen to firefighters in low-oxygen fire scenes.

New SCBA bottles often include enhancements that allow a “breathe-along” function, whereby a firefighter who is experiencing trouble with their bottle—including exhaustion of oxygen supply—can use the bottle of a colleague with them at the fire scene until they can be brought to safety for a replacement bottle. Service life for SCBA cylinders is limited to 15 years, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Code of Federal Regulations and Special Permits, which can be extended under certain circumstances for a limited duration.