Breath of Fresh Air for Firefighters in Lackawanna County

DICKSON CITY, Pa. --  Firefighters at Eagle Hose Company in Dickson City received an email this week they've been waiting decades for but never expected.

"We're very surprised, we've applied for the federal grants since the inception of them which was before 9/11 and this is the first grant we were ever successful with," said Chief Matt Horvath.

For the first time, Eagle and four other volunteer fire companies were awarded a FEMA grant from the federal government.

They'll be able to purchase more than 60 breathing units for firefighters. The packs cost almost $7,000 and Eagle's are getting old.

"Our SCBA, 14 of them, have, you know, lived their life, they're due for replacement," said Horvath.

Some of the fire companies included in this grant are in a more dire situation like firefighters here at Olyphant Hose Company #2. They're using breathing units that haven't been upgraded in almost 20 years.

The Assistant Fire Chief showed Newswatch 16 packs just marked out of service. This company is down to only 8 working packs. They'll now be able to double that.

"Well, you really can't do anything, you can't go into any buildings without air packs and stuff like that. So, it`s a big help that we got this because it does cost a lot of money. It's a lot of fundraising to do to make up the $50,000 that we just got awarded for these grants," said Asst. Chief Eric Hartshorn.

The total grant is almost $400,000, shared between the five departments in Olyphant, Throop, Peckville and Dickson City.

"A real relief, real relief, when I heard this morning, you know, I sent a text out to all the members, and it's really exciting," said Asst. Chief Brian Doughton of Eureka Hose Company.

Firefighters say if they did not get this grant they'd be forced to raise that money through fundraising and that could have taken them years the departments don't have since the breathing units are failing now.