Liberty Township Fire Department announced Jan. 21 that it received a federal grant to pay for firefighting gear.

Liberty Township Fire Department announced Jan. 21 that it received a federal grant to pay for firefighting gear.

The $95,783 assistance to firefighters grant is from Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, fire chief Tim Jensen said.

The grant provides 90 percent of the $106,425 cost of 45 sets of turnout gear helmets, coats, pants and boots. The township is required to provide a 10-percent match, or $10,642, to the purchase.

"This is a good thing. It will save the township taxpayers a lot of money," said Jensen.

The township had requested 62 sets of turnout gear, replacing it for the 52 full-time fire fighters and 10 part-time firefighters.

"I was real pleased to get the grant. While 45 suits isn't everything, it certainly takes a big chunk out of the hurt to have to pay for all of it," Jensen said.

Jensen said the township set aside $75,000 in the department's capital expense fund for replacement turnout gear. The township will take two years to spend all the money.

Jensen said turnout gear lasts Liberty about 10 years, which is the manufacturer's recommended lifespan.

Larger city departments might have to replace such gear sooner, depending on how often it is exposed to smoke and fire.

The clothing protects firefighters from heat and must be washed after each use to remove contaminants and carcinogens found in smoke.

The department has been awarded a number of grants through FEMA's Assistance to Firefighters Grant.

In the 2009 grant cycle, it received $607.952 in grant funds to pay for an Opticom GPS 1000 Series System to control traffic signals for emergency vehicles on runs.

The system was installed in 2010. The grant also provided funds for a complete National Fire Protection Agency physical examination for each employee, for weightlifting and cardiovascular equipment for each of the two fire stations, and for three firefighters to become certified fitness coordinators.

In the 2008 grant cycle, the department was awarded $92,568 to purchase equipment planned for the 2009 budget. That equipment included two new electrocardiogram monitor/defibrillators for EMS vehicles; eight automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), which will go in the department's first-response vehicles and in the township hall; a new compressor system to fill firefighter air tanks; and two new carbon monoxide-nitrogen dioxide gas detectors that will activate the exhaust system in the department's bay areas and clear out fumes from emergency vehicles.