Grants fund Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus, equipped with cameras, for firefighters

Kankakee Township Administrative Fire Chief Tom Thode (blue shirt) instructs firefighters on the new SCBAs.

Kankakee firefighter Austin Holland checks the gauge on the MSA G1 unit during a recent training.

A closeup of an SCBA.

Story and photos by Mike Kellems

Recently several fire departments in LaPorte County benefited from a federal grant that allowed for the purchase of a critical piece of equipment. Firefighters with Center, Kankakee, LaPorte, Springfield, Scipio, and Westville departments received new Self Contained Breathing Apparatus or “SCBA.”

Anytime firefighters respond to a call where there is a breathing hazard, they will don the SCBA, which allows them to work in the hazardous environment. A unique feature on the state-of-the-art equipment is an integrated thermal imaging camera, which allows firefighters to “see” when there is zero visibility; for example, when they enter a structure fire that is filled with heavy, dense smoke.

The SCBA, manufactured by MSA and known as the “G1” model, weighs 24 pounds — considerably lighter than previous models — and has roughly a 45-minute supply of air. In addition to the thermal imaging cameras, the units are equipped with a PASS alarm that emits a shrill siren noise when a firefighter is motionless for more than 20 seconds.

In 2017, $240,000 in grant funds were used to purchase SCBAs for Kingsford-Union, Kingsbury and Hanna fire departments. Based on the success of that grant, a $1 million grant was sought through the Fire Act. The application, which required a 10% match, was successful and the funds were awarded through Homeland Security for the purchase of the units recently received.

The following departments received this many SCBAs in 2018:  

Center ~ 24
Kankakee ~ 25
LaPorte ~ 28
Westville ~ 25
Scipio ~ 25
Springfield ~ 25

One Response to “Grants fund Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus, equipped with cameras, for firefighters”

  1. Julie Kessler

    Dec 04. 2018

    Thanks, Mike, for continuing a long avocation of contibutions to the chronicling, in photos and stories, of La Porte city and county events, from a single photograph of nature to a story-and-photo package like this one. It’s appreciated.

    Reply to this comment

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