New breathing masks and oxygen tanks will soon be worn by Amherst firefighters, pending a city council vote.
After voicing support for the $250,000 purchase order Monday night, elected officials are expected to move forward with an emergency vote this coming week.
The Amherst fire department was granted $201,000 this past September in Federal Emergency Management Agency cash to update decades-old equipment.
Former chief Wayne Northeim and new chief Greg Knoll have each spoken on how the AFD’s 34 self-contained breathing apparatus (SCUBA but for fires, not underwater) were bought between 1986 and 1990. They’ve gone through several upgrades and fixes but now need replaced with versions complaint with the National Fire Protection Agency standards.
Amherst safety-service director John Jeffreys said the department spends $3,000 to $5,000 per unit each year to keep them up and running.
The replacements will not only save those costs, but they’ll be more durable, he said. They’ll have a 20-year lifespan.
The high-tech SCBAs will have a low-oxygen alarm that rings when only 33 percent of air is remaining, allowing firefighters to make a timelier exit from a burning structure.
They’ll also boast back-up replacement bottles, special masks that allow firefighter-to-firefighter communications, and built-in locators so it’s clear where every responder is.
Council’s police and fire committee showed unanimous support for the purchase, sending it to the floor with emergency status. It will come up for a second vote next week.
Councilman Phil Van Treuren said local lawmakers often use emergency status to push items through quickly — but noted how this time, fast-tracking a vote could actually save a life.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Civitas Media Chad Henry an Amherst firefighter since 2010, shows self-contained breathing apparatus used on call-outs. Council is set to vote on approving all-new gear using a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant.
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