ALPENA, Mich. — pena’s city council approved funding for the fire department to outfit their trucks with air packs in the fall of 2019. The equipment was delivered to the fire station this week, and was installed on the trucks this afternoon.
Deputy Chief Training Officer for the City of Alpena Fire Department, says, “This is basically what firefighters wear when we go into hazardous atmospheres, whether it be a fire or an industrial-type setting. It’s what we would wear for respiratory protection.”
Each pack, also known as a self–contained breathing apparatus, is strapped to the back of a firefighter before walking into one of these dangerous situations, but they serve a variety of functions beyond supplying firefighters with air.
Edmonds says, “It’s got a thermal imaging camera that actually picks up heat sources so we can actually see the shape and heat of a person if they were a victim. Whether it be a person or an animal, the firefighters can see it because a lot of the times in the smoke, we can’t see what we’re doing.”
They also use GPS to locate firefighters if they show signs of inactivity or have a hard time navigating smoke and debris.
Officer Edmonds says this is something the previous equipment couldn’t do with it’s outdated technology.
“We had CBAs before that were about 15 or 18 years, actually, I think 18 years old, so they were kind of obsolete. We were starting to have some failure issues with them. Just some overall general maintenance issues with them, just because they were old.”
With the upgrade, officer Edmonds says the department is able to feel more secure while doing their jobs, and they’re thankful the city agreed to invest in the well–being of first responders.
“This was a major purchase for the fire department. It costed about $186,000 for all of the packs. We just appreciate the fact that city council was gracious enough to see the need and allow us to purchase these, because it was definitely something that needed to be upgraded for the firefighters’ safety and survival.