Alabaster Township officials recently presented a $20,000 check to the Tawas City Fire Department (TCFD), to aid in their acquisition of new air packs. Pictured here at the fire hall, from left, are Alabaster Township Treasurer Lorraine Paskiewicz, TCFD Chief Steve Masich, Township Trustee Joe Czaika, Supervisor Stephanie Wentworth, Clerk Jasmine Tubbs and TCFD Battalion Chief Dave Seyfried. Shown at front is one of the new air packs that the department has already received, during their efforts to replace the outdated and no longer reliable models.

TAWAS CITY – Acquiring new equipment to ensure the safety and success of a fire department is necessary, but it is also an expensive endeavor.

The Tawas City Fire Department (TCFD) has been working for several years to update their self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs), and a $20,000 donation from Alabaster Township is the latest contribution to the cause.

As TCFD Chief Steve Masich has explained, the previous, outdated SCBAs were nearly 20 years old and no longer reliable.

Township Supervisor Stephanie Wentworth, Treasurer Lorraine Paskiewicz, Trustee Joe Czaika and Clerk Jasmine Tubbs all headed to the fire hall recently to present the check. On hand to accept the donation on behalf of the TCFD were Masich and Battalion Chief Dave Seyfried.

In addition to serving Tawas City and having a mutual aid agreement with the East Tawas Fire Department, the TCFD also responds to calls in the townships of Alabaster, Sherman and Tawas.

“Alabaster Township recognizes and appreciates the high quality of fire protection provided by the volunteer firemen of the Tawas City Fire Department,” Wentworth expressed. “We also recognize and appreciate the value of the regional fire service provided by Tawas City. Thank you.”

She said the township representatives were at the station that day to make a $20,000 investment in the fire department member’s safety, by helping to fund the replacement of their aging air packs.

She adds that the township cares a great deal about the safety of TCFD personnel, and is heavily invested in the fire department. “We are looking forward to a long relationship. We are glad that we are able to make this donation.”

Wentworth said it was during their June 8 meeting when the Alabaster Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved making the donation.

She advised that the subject was originally brought up by members of the TCFD, when they attended an earlier township meeting.

“They explained the need for this equipment and hoped we would all be able to participate.  We were glad we were able to do that,” Wentworth states. “We understood the need and understood the urgency.”

According to Masich, the contribution from Alabaster Township will be used to offset the expense of the current purchase.

As has been reported, after several failed attempts to secure a grant toward the purchase of modern SCBAs – along with mulling other options – the Tawas City Council voted in February to buy 20 new air packs and the associated equipment for the TCFD, in the amount of $119,965.

The department has since received the 20 sets of air packs and 28 face masks, which Masich says will satisfy their requirements.

“We are very fortunate to be fully staffed with 25 firefighters and three Cadets,” he adds.

Masich has noted that, to his assessment, the air packs are the number one, true lifeline of any firefighter.

He said the new models weigh about 1/3 less than the TCFD’s former air packs, which will reduce a tremendous amount of fatigue. The updated gear also offers many safety features, such as a heads-up display in the face mask indicating important air supply information to the firefighter, as well as Bluetooth technology for face mask-to-face mask communications while in a structure fire.

Further, the devices contain a built-in display of important information, including LED lights mounted outside the frame of the packs, which will help command staff monitor the firefighter’s position and their air supply. The pack also has a built-in black box/computer recorder in case important information needs to be reviewed.

Masich has stated previously that the SCBAs will be a great asset, both in terms of technology and safety for the firefighters.

He also pointed out that Tawas Township donated to this project a while back, as well.

As reported, the money from the fire protection agreement with Sherman Township already goes directly into the TCFD’s equipment fund.