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Zephyrhills Fire Department gets grant

(ran PC edition)

The city's Fire Department has received a $172,265 federal grant that will buy 40 new breathing apparatuses for firefighters, Chief Bob Hartwig said Wednesday.

The department will match 10 percent of the money, or roughly $17,000, and receive the other $155,000 from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

The program, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, awards one-year grants to individual departments to improve firefighter safety.

Zephyrhills will use its share of the pot to replace 20-year-old self-contained breathing apparatuses firefighters use in burning buildings, Hartwig said.

The apparatuses, made up of a mask, backpack and air tank, cost about $3,500 apiece. The money will also pay for new air systems that operate with the tanks, totalling about $30,000.

"What this allows us to do is meet the current standards" for safety, Hartwig said.

"We've got some units that are really in terrible shape."

The $172,265 Zephyrhills won is substantial compared with awards to some other departments around the country. Many cities received between $20,000 and $40,000, Hartwig said.

Zephyrhills will receive the money within a month and immediately start the bidding process for the breathing machines.

So far, 3,351 grants have been awarded nationally through the grant program, totaling more than $208-million, according to the FEMA Web site.

_ Molly Moorhead covers the city of Zephyrhills. She can be reached at (352) 521-5757 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6108, then 29. Her e-mail address is