Upgrading equipment for first responders is critical.

And the Rosenberg Fire Department may have found a way to lighten the load on the city’s budget when the city needs to buy equipment and supplies.

At the Rosenberg City Council meeting Tuesday, Assistant Fire Chief Daryl Maretka presented an application for a Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters grant.

The $356,400 grant, which costs the city $32,400 to apply for, would award the fire department funding the purchase of self-contained breathing apparatus.

An SCBA is a device worn by rescue workers to provide breathable air in an atmosphere immediately dangerous to life or health.

The department’s current SCBAs are nearing the end of their lifespan, and have exceeded two generations of National Fire Protection Association standards, Maretka explained.

Fire department leaderships met with the Fairchilds, Needville, and Pleak fire departments and found that they were also in need of new SCBAs.

After attending a grant workshop, area department personnel came together and felt the best approach was to jointly apply for a regional grant for SCBAs. Rosenberg routinely works with other jurisdictions on incidents requiring the use of SCBAs.

The departments chose to work with a grant consulting service to prepare the application, with the Rosenberg Fire Department serving as the grant host for this regional grant.

According to city staff, the program is a 90/10% matching grant. The city of Rosenberg would be responsible for contributing 10% of the equipment that Rosenberg receives as part of the regional grant request, making the city’s 10% match $32,400.

Likewise, each of the other departments would be responsible for their 10% required match for the equipment funding they receive.

Council member Kevin Raines asked why this item wasn’t brought to council before accepting the fiscal year 2021 budget.

Maretka said grant information wasn’t provided to the fire department until after the budget had been discussed.

“You can’t enter a (burning) building without an air pack,” council member Steven DeGregorio said. “I’m all for it.”

Council member Tim Anders agreed.

“I’m not a fireman, but I sure don’t want to go into a smoking building without it, so I’m all for it,” he chimed in.

Council member Jacob Balderas said if council didn’t take advantage of this grant opportunity, the city would have to pay for the $350,000 bill.

DeGregorio then made the motion to accept and apply for the grant. The motion was seconded by Anders and passed unanimously.

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