Fire chief briefs council on air packs

The Jefferson fire department applied for grants to replace 10 air packs from both Grow Greene County and the Greene County Community Foundation, fire chief Randy Love told the Jefferson city council Tuesday night.

The council at its Jan. 26 meeting approved a $10,000 match for the Grow Greene County grant from the $50,000 the city is already guaranteed to receive from that group. Love thanked the council for providing the match for the $63,000 grant application.

He did not say how much the fire department asked for from the Community Foundation nor the match offered on that application. All Community Foundation funds come from Grow Greene County.

Love said that on “big ticket items” the department normally tries “to go for the grant money, get some of that stuff covered that way, rather than asking to go over budget and raising taxes.”

Love showed to the council an air pack now in use. He said the air packs now in use are from 2003. The technology has been updated three times since then, Love said, and all the masks now in use are outdated. Masks are now made with a fireproof lens cover on them; the JFD’s masks do not have that feature.

Council member Harry Ahrenholtz asked Love if there is any risk in using the outdated equipment. “There’s always risk even when they’re brand new,” Love said. “There’s a little more risk in using these because of the fireproof glass, and the new upgrades done to the tanks.”

Love clarified that the equipment is outdated according to NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) specifications, and that OSHA allows their use until there is a problem. The new purchases will include air packs, masks, and the voice amplifiers needed for communication.

The department still uses some pre-2003 air packs. The older ones are steel and are heavier than the carbonite 2003 air packs, Love explained. He said the tanks hold enough air for 30-35 minutes, which is as long as a firefighter can safely work inside a burning building before exhaustion becomes an issue.

During the fire at Pizza Ranch Jan. 27, Jefferson firefighters used a dozen of the newer air tanks and drained them three times. Firefighters from Churdan and Scranton also drained their tanks. The JFD does not have equipment to refill air tanks at a fire site, but the Grand Junction fire and rescue squad does. They used the Grand Junction refill equipment until that source ran out, and then began shuttling empty air packs to the fire station for refilling.



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