Of the Baker City Herald

Thanks to a $107,000 federal grant, Baker City firefighters will work with better, safer equipment when they tackle fires in the future.

They'll be nattily dressed, too.

The money, from the United States Fire Administration, will buy, among other things, 30 sets of new protective clothing.

The department also will use the grant to upgrade the oxygen masks firefighters use while working in thick smoke, Fire Chief Tim Frost said.

andquot;This is a very needed, very much appreciated help,andquot; Frost said. andquot;We're excited.andquot;

Baker City is one of 10 Oregon fire departments to receive grants this month, according to a joint news release from the state's senators, Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden.

None of the other nine is in Baker County.

Frost said Baker City's fire department could not have afforded to buy all the new equipment had it not received the federal grant.

He said the city's current budget includes $9,000 for new equipment this fiscal year.

Here's what the federal dollars will buy:

o Full turnouts, including helmets and boots, for the city's paid and volunteer firefighters.

Frost said the city will donate some of its old turnouts to rural fire departments in the county.

The city also will buy a commercial-grade washing machine to launder the new turnouts.

o Improvements to the oxygen masks, also known as andquot;self-contained breathing apparatus,andquot; or SCBAs.

The revamped units will better protect firefighters who sometimes have to work in blinding, cloying smoke inside burning buildings, Frost said.

o Improvements to the air compressor the department uses to fill its oxygen tanks.

Frost said the city also has received a $20,000 grant from the Leo Adler Foundation to upgrade the compressor.

Adler, who died in 1993, was a longtime benefactor of the fire department, buying several ambulances and other equipment as well as treating firefighters to steak dinners.

o A monitor that detects and measures levels of dangerous gases emitted during fires.

Frost said the machine senses oxygen, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. It also alerts firefighters to the possibility of explosions, he said.

The U.S. Fire Administration is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Baker City's grant came from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, according to Smith and Wyden.

andquot;These funds will help our local fire departments improve their firefighting equipment and tactics so that Oregon's communities will be safer places to live,andquot; Smith said.