Fire District No. 1 to upgrade safety equipment

By Chloe Shelford | Jul 11, 2018

Fire District No. 1 firefighters can breath a little easier after the district's Prudential Committee approved the purchase of new safety equipment at the committee's July 11 meeting.

The equipment, called self-contained breathing apparatuses, or SCBAs, allow firefighters to breath safely while fighting a fire. Each unit contains a facepiece, air cylinders, a harness, and other necessary equipment.

Funding for the equipment had been approved at the district's May 9 annual meeting.

The average lifespan of the devices is 15 years, but some of the department's existing SCBA kits date back to 1997. As the equipment ages, the devices become less effective, which means that the firefighters have less time to work safely.

The new SCBAs, manufactured by MSA, are a huge upgrade. Each unit is lighter in weight than existing equipment despite featuring larger capacity cylinders, which hold a fresh supply of air.

In addition, each firefighter will have a small thermal imaging camera, which can be used to find people using their body heat as well as hotspots not readily visible.

Deputy Chief Jake Bettencourt said most departments only have a thermal imaging camera for the lead firefighter. By providing each person with a camera, the district is improving safety for firefighters who get separated from the group, as well as improving their responsiveness to hot spots or people who may still be in the building.

The Boston Fire Department just upgraded to the same SCBAs.

“These are far superior units to the existing manufacture,” said Bettencourt. “These are of great value to our men, and we are thrilled to death about it.”

Bettencourt also emphasized the district’s gratitude to the taxpayers, who funded the upgraded equipment.

Fire District No. 1 is also about to get a new, custom-built fire truck, which is expected to arrive next week.

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