Elizabethton Fire Department acquires new air pack equipment

Published 8:14 am Thursday, November 29, 2018

To serve a city in dangerous situations, firefighters need equipment at the top of its game in order to improve their ability to serve. When their equipment is at least 20 years old, however, this can be a dangerous risk. The Elizabethton Fire Department holds this mentality and is making a needed switch.

The Elizabethton Fire Department is acquiring upgraded equipment to enhance their abilities as a force, purchasing new air packs from Scott Safety.

“The packs currently in use are 20 years old,” Fire Chief Barry Carrier said. “They are serviceable, but every year they cost more and more because of maintenance issues.”

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The upgraded air packs include the actual mask, the harness backpack and new air tanks.

“This year, with the help of the city manager and their staff and the support of the city council, we were able to replace our aging SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) equipment,” Carrier said.

Scott Safety said the packs are meant to work for at least ten years and are equipped to withstand up to 500-degree conditions.

The air packs and masks do not just serve to keep out the heat, but also to protect the firefighter from the toxic chemicals in smoke.

“In the past, building materials were made from natural materials so when they burned, they produced normal smoke,” Carrier said. “Today, when materials burn, they release toxic smoke.”

On Wednesday morning, Nov. 28, two representatives from Scott Safety came by to test out the new equipment and host a training event for the fire department, showcasing the new features and how to use them.

Among the upgrades is an electronic log system that keeps track of and records every time an air pack is turned on, needs maintenance and turned off, among other functions.

In addition, the new system also allows for OK signals to be sent out in the middle of fighting a fire without having to use the radio, a feature they said will improve their ability to communicate in the field.

Carrier said the new equipment is critical to maintaining their ability to serve the city of Elizabethton.

“Air packs are our very first line of defense that keeps firefighters safe,” he said.