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Grant Funds Provide Breathing Gear
New self-contained breathing apparatus units have arrived for the Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District, part of an Assistance to Firefighters Grant.

"We applied for that in March 2007 and got awarded that one," Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello said of the $116,858 grant. "We've spent the money ... we have 24 new breathing apparatus units, an individual mask for each fire department member, no more sharing."

In the past, firefighters used whatever mask and air tank unit available. Now, each will have their own personal equipment.

"These are state of the art," explained Mello. "They are replacing units that were as much as 18 years old."

The grant provided for 24 masks and air tanks, with 24 extra bottles for air and two 'rapid intervention team' packs designed for rescuing firefighters if they go down during a fire.

"If we have a firefighter inside a building go down, these kits are for that," Mello said of initiating a rescue operation.

The new equipment arrived at the fire station in early July and training in the use of the items is being done now.

"We can't put them in service until everyone is trained on them," said Mello. "We'll do the training and be ready to go."