BETHEL — The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted Monday to allow the Fire Department to pursue a grant to replace 18 of its self-contained breathing apparatus.

Bethel fire Chief Mike Jodrey said the department uses 18 Survive-Air units.

“Now, the industry has changed over to Scott Air Units,” Jodrey said. “For the last two years, the only dealer left in New England who can provide parts for Survive-Air units is in New Hampshire, and it takes two or three months to come through. We’re starting to run into the issue where parts to repair our units are becoming harder and harder to come by.”

Jodrey said Scott Safety owned 80 percent of the self-contained breathing apparatus market-share in the United States and is a “fairly safe bet to go with.”

“Through the Federal Assistance to Firefighters program, we’re hoping to have the opportunity to apply for a grant with a 5 percent match to replace our Survive-Air units,” Jodrey said. “We would be looking at somewhere between $5,500 and $6,000 to replace them. For the price of one air pack, we would be getting 18.”

 Jodrey said the air packs in use are in working order and have a a life expectancy of 15 years.

“Right now, our newest air packs are 11 years old,” Jodrey said. “I’d hate to keep these around if, in five more years, there’s not even going to be any parts to repair them.”

Selectman Peter Southam asked Jodrey if the department could sell the older units.

Jodrey said it would be difficult to sell them to another fire department.

“If you can’t get any parts or services for the air packs, they’re pretty much rendered useless,” Jodrey said. He said some have been sent to third world countries for an extremely reduced price.

Selectman Don Bennett said he believed Jodrey should pursue the grant.

Jodrey said the matching money for the grant would be included in his department budget for 2015.

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