Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Goose Creek Fire Department firefighters can soon breathe easy – and much longer.
GCFD Capt. Warren Adair recently applied for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) assistance to firefighters grant program that will allow the fire department to replace its self-contained breathing apparatuses.
The apparatus is an air tank and a mask that firefighters use in hazardous situations such as structure, car, dumpster and hazardous materials fires. The devices have an alarm that alerts other firefighters if a firefighter is down or low on air.
“Everything you breathe in at a fire is cancerous,” Adair said. “You want to protect your respiratory system as much as possible.”
The $138,000 grant was announced at a Jan. 22 Goose Creek City Council workshop.
“We have a need coming up to change breathing apparatuses,” GCFD Chief Steve Chapman told councilmembers. “These change every two years like cars. They get more expensive. Our air packs are 10 to 12 years old.
“Every riding position on our fire trucks will have a breathing apparatus. This is a considerable grant.”
The old apparatuses will be used as spares or sold as surplus, Chapman said. The chief said the 20 new models should be available in June, when the department expects to place an order. The equipment is expected to arrive and be in use by August or September, according to Adair.
The current cylinders have 2,216 psi, which allows a firefighter to breathe for about 30 minutes before the air runs out, Adair said. The new cylinders hold 4,500 psi and should allow 45 minutes of breathing time. This will allow firefighters to have longer work times. “Firemen will have more time to get out of a building,” Adair said.
The new apparatuses have a “buddy breathing system” so two firefighters can breathe off one cylinder simultaneously.
The cylinders hold regular air, not oxygen, Adair said. They cost more than $6,000 each.
Adair applied for the grant once before and it was not awarded to GCFD until it was rewritten for a second application.
Adair became a firefighter 25 years ago in New Jersey and has been with GCFD for 10 years.