Donations bring new air tanks to firefighters

From left, International Paper Plant General Manager Daryl Worm, St. Anthony Volunteer Fire Department Board President Darin Blessinger, Assistant Chief Brian Wissel, Fire Chief Scott Uebelhor and Old National Bank Regional President Tom Krodel pose by the fire department’s new, upgraded Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus Monday evening at the fire station. Recent corporate donations by natural gas supplier TransCanada Corp., International Paper, Old National Bank and an anonymous donor are helping fund the upgrade. Uebelhor says the donations total $36,500.

By BILL POWELL
bpowell@dcherald.com

ST. ANTHONY — Recent donations are making it possible for the St. Anthony Volunteer Fire Department to forge ahead with plans to replace the department’s Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus.

SCBA gear is a firefighter’s primary protection from inhaling toxic gasses and super-heated air, and is used in environments from building fires to anhydrous ammonia releases, according to Fire Chief Scott Uebelhor.

The St. Anthony department’s SCBA units were purchased in 2002, making them 17 years old. Changes in National Fire Protection Association guidelines call for replacing and updating aging SCBAs and, after 15 years, the carbon-fiber air cylinders must be retired.

The units had cost $2,600 each in 2002, Uebelhor said. Today, that cost is $5,000.

As part of a process to keep firefighters equipped with current and safe equipment, Uebelhor says the fire department put together a plan to buy 12 new SCBAs during the next two years.

In January, St. Anthony firefighters took delivery of six Honeywell 45-minute SCBAs with spare bottles.

Uebelhor says the purchase replaced half of the department’s SCBAs and gave firefighters enough air bottles to take 12 of the tanks that must be retired out of service.

Recent corporate donations by natural gas supplier TransCanada Corp., International Paper, Old National Bank and an anonymous donor are helping fund the upgrade. Uebelhor says the donations total $36,500.

The chief called the donated funds “extraordinary support.”

Uebelhor is still seeking a grant and donations in any amount, but he thinks it will be possible to replace all 12 of the department’s SCBAs by 2020.

St. Anthony’s fire department serves Jackson Township and its surrounding area. The township includes St. Anthony, St. Marks and Bretzville.

The department currently has 28 members.




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