The St. Jean Fire Department is facing the pressing challenge of replacing its self-contained breathing apparatus.
Fire Chief Eugene Fillion says with just a few months' notice, he was informed the units, have been discontinued by the manufacturer.

"We figured we can still use them for the next ten to fifteen years until we couldn't get parts to repair them, because we already are into these for eight years so we figured another ten years would have been sufficient. But unfortunately, they came back saying that our breathing apparatus were no longer going to be certified as of December 15th. They will not qualify. There is a government accreditation die-off, and they will not certify them after that date."

This has left the small-town volunteer fire department in a bit of a bind.

"We have twelve breathing apparatus and now we're struggling, at the cost of about thirteen thousand dollars apiece, we're looking at over one hundred thousand dollars (to replace them)," explained Fillion. "In a small community like ours, the budgets are pretty tight without having to spend a hundred thousand dollars."

The department has applied for a few grants to help pay for the replacements but was unsuccessful. However, it did receive some good news last week. It has been named one of three finalists in BASF's Growing Home initiative which looks to support organizations that are the lifeblood of their rural communities. But the department needs your help to push through and win by placing your vote online. 

Fillion says the self-contained breathing apparatus is a crucial piece of equipment for them. 

"It basically is our lifeline to go into a structure fire or smoke or anything," he said. "Without those breathing apparatus we basically stand behind and watch the place burn."

"We're in desperate need of fund raising, so this would be a positive if we get this grant money," noted Fillion.

Votes can be cast here.