German Township volunteer firefighters are using a $104,000 matching grant to purchase safety equipment.

The grant, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighter grant program, required a 5 percent match from the fire department, consisting of $4,952 from its cumulative fund.

The cumulative fund is taxpayer money that is managed by the German Township trustee for large purposes, said Deputy Chief Matt Lynch.

It’s the department’s first time applying for this type of grant, Lynch said.

“Without grants, we wouldn’t have half of the equipment we have to keep our firefighters and community safe,” Lynch said.

The department used the funds to purchase 16 new self-contained breathing apparatus units, which is what firefighters wear for fresh air when entering an environment with contaminated air from a fire, along with 16 spare bottles.

They also bought two firefighter rescue systems used for locating and rescuing a firefighter trapped in a building and running out of fresh air, as well as a firefighter tracking device for tracking a firefighter’s movement in a fire situation.

The firefighter tracking device alerts fire crews if a firefighter stops moving or is in duress while inside a burning structure, Lynch said.

Lynch said these investments were critical for the department. Federal regulations require that high pressure bottles for the self-contained breathing equipment to be no older than 15 years old. The department’s bottles were nearing 13 years old.

The department also used $8,000 from the cumulative fund to purchase two thermal imaging cameras. These cameras make it easier for firefighters to see to find victims when buildings are filled with smoke. The cameras allow firefighters to quickly scan a room for victims from a doorway, instead of crawling along the floor to try to find them.

“With this added equipment, our firefighters can better serve our community in a safer, more effective manner,” Fire Chief Robert Drake said in a press release. “We can minimize the time we are searching for possible victims, which decreases the amount of time our firefighters are working in dangerous environments.”

Lynch said the department continues to apply for additional grants and funding for equipment. The department is awaiting a response about an Indiana Public Safety Foundation grant.

How to help

For information on how to donate to the German Township Volunteer Fire Department, visit germanfire.org/donate.