OAKLAND — The six-figure grant for the fire department announced Friday is the second largest the department has ever won.

The $130,096 will buy replacements for 13-year-old breathing equipment that is essential to a firefighter’s safety, said fire Chief David Coughlin.

He worked with firefighter Mark Stevens to apply for this year’s grant, which is highly competitive because it’s available to all fire departments nationwide, he said.

“We have somewhere close to 80 hours invested in the paperwork and the research and being able to put a successful project together,” Coughlin said. “It definitely is a time-consuming effort.”

During his time with the Oakland Fire Department, Coughlin has won nearly a million dollars worth of grants and donations.

In 2004, Coughlin worked with then-Chief Charles Pullen to win the largest grant so far for the department: $400,000 for a new ladder truck. As a firefighter, Coughlin helped the chief win a total of $517,995 in grant money.


Since becoming fire chief a decade ago, Coughlin has won $413,530 in grant money and more than $60,000 worth of donated equipment for the department from organizations like the Maine Municipal Association, Maine Emergency Management and Maine EMS, as well as private foundations.

The grants have gotten the department fire hoses, extrication equipment, gas meters and training classes, among other things, Coughlin said.

The most recent grant is from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.

The assistance program was created to give funding to fire departments and emergency service organizations so they can buy equipment, protective gear, vehicles and training.

The federal grant, which required $6,504 in matching local funds, will buy 20 new self-contained breathing apparatuses. The equipment is eligible for a replacement through a grant after a decade, Coughlin said.

The breathing equipment provides a fresh, breathable air supply to firefighters when they enter a dangerous atmosphere, like a burning building, Coughlin said.


“Of all the protective equipment firefighters wear when entering an atmosphere immediately dangerous to life and health … a (self-contained breathing apparatus) is the most important,” he said.

The equipment is broken into parts, including an airpack that costs $4,500, a face piece that costs $275, and air bottles that cost $925. One full unit costs $5,700.

The grant was first announced in a press release Friday from the office of U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District.

“When our firefighters across Maine rush to the scene of an emergency, they must have the tools and resources they need to get the job done and to protect their own safety,” Poliquin said in the release.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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