CAIRO — Grady County commissioners approved the $19,000 purchase of a new piece of equipment for the volunteer fire department to replace an older device that is intended to help save the lives of first responders.

Fire Chief Richard Phillips appeared before the commission Tuesday morning to request the purchase of a Mako breathing air compressor, which he said the fire department desperately needed.

“It actually compresses the air that we put into our (self-contained breathing apparatus) bottles that we have to breathe to go into structure fires or any hazardous smoke situations,” Phillips said.

Phillips explained that air compressors typically have lifespans that span several decades and that the county’s current device is around 20 years old, but parts cannot be purchased to maintain it because the manufacturer has gone out of business.

To make the purchase more cost-efficient in the long term, Phillips accepted a bid from a local company to reduce expenses related to servicing the device’s air quality, which the fire department does annually.

The total cost of the compressor is more than $41,000, but Phillips secured a $22,500 grant from the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council with $2,500 matching funds.

“We started hunting for some grant money and found some with the Fireworks Grant through the state,” Phillips said.

The remaining $19,000 will come from the county’s special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST) funds designated for public safety equipment.

Commissioner June Knight’s motion to accept Phillips’ request was seconded by Phillip Drew, and the commissioners voted unanimously to approve the purchase.