United Way donates 326K to Pima Fire for breathing apparatus

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties presented a check for $326,000 to the Pima Fire Department to replace its SCBAs. Pictured are, from left, Daryl Weech, Pima Fire Assistant Chief, Tiffany Weech, Pima Fire Grant Chair, Bob Rivera, United Way Grant Review Committee Chair, Amanda Patterson, United Way Grant Manager, and Nathan Weech, Pima Fire Secretary/Treasurer. 

The organization has given Pima more than $1 million in less than 1.5 years 

By Jon Johnson


“We are volunteers. We didn’t start the fires or cause the crashes. We signed up to help but we also want to be able to go home at the end of the day.”

Daryl Weech – Pima Fire Assistant Chief 

PIMA – In a fire call situation, being able to adequately breathe while fighting a fire and communicating with other team members is essential. With a $326,000 donation from the United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties, the Pima Fire Department will update its self-contained breathing apparatus machines (SCBA’s) to better serve the community and increase safety. 

United Way Grant Committee Chair Bob Rivera and Grant Manager Amanda Patterson were on hand at the Pima Town Council’s Tuesday night meeting to present a check to the fire department. The Pima Town Council unanimously approved using the grant money to purchase the new SCBAs and refilling station. Pima Town Manager Vernon Batty gave his appreciation about the donation and others that the United Way has given recently, including roughly $200,000 for new soccer fields, $200,000 for a new public library, and additional money for the fire department last year. 

“I’ve only been here a year-and-a-half and that’s well over a million dollars that they’ve given us and we operate on a budget between two and three million dollars for the entire year, so that is a sizable investment in our community,” Batty said. “Thank you so much.”

The fire department grant was written by Tiffany Weech, who had practiced writing a separate grant the previous year. The grant covers at least 20 tanks and multiple packs that hold the batteries and tanks. With a new refilling station, the grant ensures firefighters will have full air tanks and additional ones at the ready when needed. 

Additionally, the new masks are laser fitted and feature a bone-induction method of hearing that provides much better sound quality for person-to-person communication and via radio chatter. 

“A lot of people can’t hear me when I’m in my mask,” Tiffany Weech said. “The trucks are going and the water is going and the fire is going, so this will make it a lot easier for our more quiet members to be heard and be more safe.”

In other Pima Town Council News:

• The council also approved an expenditure of $67,795 for a new heart monitor machine for the fire department’s EMS arm. The town will pay $15,000 out of its budget this year along with $30,000 from the fire district as a down payment on the machine and finance the rest over two additional years.

“I don’t think there is anything more important in town,” Pima council member C.B. Fletcher said. 

Pima Police Chief Diane Cauthen added that the Pima EMS getting vitals on the scene can be critical in an emergency. 

“They can save minutes, they can save lives,” Cauthen said. 

• The council approved its FY2024 budget of $3.95 million – a 35.9% increase from last fiscal year’s budget, however, nearly $900,000 of the increase is due to grants given to the town, so the actual increase in the town’s expenditures is about 17.6 percent over the previous year’s budget of about $2.63 million.