OTISFIELD – The town has been awarded a $17,000 grant to upgrade equipment to assist with catastrophes, Fire Chief Garry Dyer told selectmen Wednesday night.

The department currently has 30-minute air packs, but a recent training session determined they need 60-minute packs, Dyer said. He explained that by the time fire personnel were dressed airtight to deal with a hazardous material, they only had 10 minutes to work. The 60-minute tanks will add 30 minutes to work time.

“After that training, we knew we needed to upgrade to 60-minute air packs ASAP,” Dyer said.

The department has eight 30-minute packs, and the Homeland Security Department grant will fund the upgrade of six packs to 60 minutes with a spare air bottle for each.

The grant also funds two bullhorns and four windsocks. The bullhorns enable fire personnel to inform anyone involved in an incident what the department is doing, and the windsocks assist in showing the direction of the wind for airborne threats, Dyer explained.

Dyer estimated it will cost $4,500 to convert the remaining two air packs.

The air packs can also be used for search and rescue in burning buildings.

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