Thanks to a federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security, the Salem Fire & EMS Department has updated some of the most important equipment its firefighters use in the field. Self-contained breathing apparatus packs and other important accessories were recently purchased with a combination of grant money and city funds.
“The new equipment replaces the current self-contained breathing devices that are 15-years-old,” says John Prillaman, Salem Fire and EMS Chief. “The new packs offer many safety features that our current packs do not have, including the Heads-Up Display, which allows firefighters to monitor their air supply continuously inside their masks.”
The department purchased 42 self-contained breathing apparatus, 84 air cylinders, 63 face pieces and 4 rapid intervention team bags. The grant covered $255,546 of the approximate $300,000 cost. Several different SCBA manufacturers were evaluated before the MSA G-1 packs were purchased. The department chose these for comfort, performance and upgradeability.
“All of our operations and staff personnel have received training on the new packs and each person has been fitted for his or her new face piece,” says Prillaman. “Obviously, a purchase of this magnitude would not have been possible without the generous grant from the Department of Homeland Security.”
The new equipment also includes software installed in each pack that allows Incident Commanders to monitor the air supply of firefighters inside of a hazardous atmosphere. If a firefighter gets in trouble or runs out of air, the software sends an alarm signal to a computer in the command vehicle. The new software also has a two-way evacuation feature that allows Incident Commanders to signal crews to exit a building without using radio traffic. It in turn allows firefighters to acknowledge receipt of the message.