Fire departments around the Rim country are benefiting from Homeland Security appropriations.
In September, more than $200,000 in Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was awarded to two Rim country fire departments.
The Payson Fire Department won a grant for $130,071, and the Tonto Village Fire Department was awarded $78,630.
This is the second such grant each department has successfully secured.
Payson Fire Chief Marty deMasi said the 2004 grant will be used to purchase 30 new self-contained breathing apparatus (SEBA) and the cylinders that go with them.
"Our existing ones will soon be outdated," he said.
Last year, the FEMA money -- about $84,000 -- was used to buy a vehicle exhaust extraction system for the fire station on Rancho Road, an air compressor to fill the SEBA cylinders and a blast container, which allows failed SEBA cylinders to explode without causing injury or property damage.
"This program is one of the best things the government has ever done," deMasi said.
He said that a panel of professional firefighters, not bureaucrats, reviews grant applications and makes recommendations for the awards.
"It's an excellent program and our congressional delegation and senators have been very supportive," deMasi said.
He said the FEMA grants Payson has won require a 10-percent match from the local jurisdiction.
Chief J.R. Alliger of Tonto Village said his department plans to use the money to purchase communications equipment, SEBAs, truck equipment, personal protection equipment or turnouts, and search and rescue gear.
Last year, the Tonto Village Fire Department was awarded $51,000, which was used to buy personal protective equipment and an air compressor for the SEBAs.