Fresh air

LEWISTOWN – City Hook and Ladder has purchased 30 new Scott Air Pack 75s, for all firefighters at the company.

Scott Air Pack 75s are the breathing apparatus that the firefighters wear on their backs during fire calls. Firefighter Ryan Barlett, said the purchase of the equipment was a joint venture with the Lewistown Firefighters Relief.

“The relief benefits all of the Lewistown Fire Departments,” Barlett said. “So to explain it benefits us, United Fire and Rescue, and Brooklyn Hose Company.”

The sole purpose of the relief is to provide safety to the firefighters. Chief Robert McCaa said this safety can come in many forms.

“The safety equipment is just part of the relief fund,” McCaa said. “Another part is to provide insurance for the firefighters to help provide for families in case something were to happen.”

McCaa also said a national organization called the National Fire Protection Organization sets the standards on the equipment that all fire departments across the country use. The organization looks at the standards on the breathing apparatus every five years. McCaa said most of the time the standards change because of the new technology that comes out. The equipment that City Hook and Ladder has is either two or three generations old, since the equipment has not been replaced for 15 years.

Tim Yoder, of Mid-Atlantic Fire and Air in Reading, said the new standard for replacing equipment is every 10 years. Yoder said the company he works for has been coming to City Hook and Ladder annually for several years to service the equipment that they have to keep the equipment as close to industry standards as possible.

“The equipment they have purchased meets the new industry standards,” Yoder said. “New safety features have been added to the packs, that they did not have before.”

Yoder also made a note that the equipment manufacturer, Scott, is the only company that manufactures these packs in the United States. He said this helped to provide the fire company with competitive pricing. Assistant Fire Chief Bob Barlett, said Ryan did a lot of research over an 18 month period before they decided on the Scott, which all of the departments in the borough fire departments voted on.

Fire Company Treasurer, Don Royer, said the company has to operate on $40,000 from the relief fund. The approximate total cost of the equipment was $160,000. Royer said they had to get a loan from Kish Bank to help with the expenses of the equipment.

Barlett said they purchased the 30 breathing units and 30 spare air cylinders for the units. They also bought 30 new high temperature face masks. McCaa said once they have the equipment a fit testing will take place on the masks.

“A fit testing is done to see how the masks will fit the individual fire fighter,” McCaa said. “Each mask will pretty much be made to fit the fighter, to prevent air escaping from the mask. This makes everything safer for the fighters.”

Some of the other new features include a buddy breathing system and pack tracker. The pack tracker is an alarm system built into the packs that help in efforts to find a fallen fire fighter, through walls and floors. The tracker was donated by Mid-Atlantic Fire and Air. McCaa said the units purchased are very similar to the units they have now, it will just be a matter of getting used to the new features. Also purchased were rapid intervention packs, which are portable air supplies. These will be housed at the Brooklyn Fire Company. These intervention packs will help when trying to rescue both firefighters and civilians during fires.

McCaa said the benefit of the buddy breathing system is that it two firefighters can breathe out of the same tank when one gets low. He also said since about a dozen other local companies have Scott equipment the buddy breathing system can be used by fire fighters from different companies.

Once the equipment arrives, McCaa said, a department training session will be held at the fire academy. He said this will help the firefighters to get used to the equipment in a simulated setting.