Orange Fire Dept. gets grant for air packs; debt exclusion unnecessary

  • The Orange Fire Department christens its new Engine 2 in 2019. The department has secured a $226,666.67 grant to buy 27 self-contained breathing apparatuses. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 9/28/2021 3:33:45 PM
Modified: 9/28/2021 3:33:47 PM

ORANGE — A Special Town Meeting will be scheduled to rescind August’s debt exclusion vote, rendered unnecessary earlier this month when the Orange Fire Department secured a six-figure grant to purchase 27 self-contained breathing apparatuses.

The department announced on Facebook last week that it will receive a $226,666.67 Assistance to Firefighters Grant administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The money, coupled with the town’s required $16,000 contribution approved through capital planning two years ago, will enable the department to replace its current 25 self-contained breathing apparatuses and buy an additional two.

Fire Chief James Young had previously said the apparatuses will cost $242,349. On Tuesday, he said he planned to order the equipment “in the very near future.” These breathing apparatuses are commonly referred to as air packs, which are tanks of compressed air equipped with a breathing mask to enable firefighters to breathe inside burning structures.

Residents took to the polls on Aug. 23 to vote 113 to 32 in favor of allowing Orange to exempt from Proposition 2½ provisions the cost of a bond to buy the equipment. Young had requested the debt exclusion in case his department did not get the grant.

“We needed to replace the equipment one way or the other,” he said. “But we’re very happy to report the tax rate will not be impacted.”

He previously explained the current equipment was purchased in 2007 and there are components of that equipment that will be non-compliant with national standards by next year. He said the equipment’s life expectancy is 15 years.

The chief said he is still evaluating the different manufacturers, but the eventual vendor will accept the current apparatuses as trade-in. Young previously said the current equipment, Scott Air-Paks, came from Fire Tech and Safety of New England Inc. in Tyngsborough.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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