ALBANY The Albany Fire Department will spend $880,000 upgrading a 15-year-old piece of equipment officials say is vital to fighting fires and protecting firefighters.
Approved by the voters through the passage of Special Local Option Sales Tax VI, the AFD is set to replace its stock of personal breathing apparatuses which, Assistant Chief Allen Cravey says, have reached the end of their recommended life cycle.
"We bought the ones we have now in 1997 and 15 years is really the maximum that this equipment is rated for," Cravey said.
At nearly $4,400 per unit, the new breathing apparatuses come at a hefty price, but Cravey said that, over the last 15 years, the standards adopted by national fire authorities have risen, with more high-tech safety and communications capabilities required in the units.
The new units, Cravey said, will have a firefighter alert system that will beep if the firefighter stays still for more than 30 or 45 seconds. Cravey also said that the units come with a communication ability that will allow those commanding a fire response to monitor air levels for each individual firefighter and would allow the commanders to send evacuation orders to those engaged in fighting a fire remotely.
"This equipment is probably the most vital piece of equipment that a modern firefighter has," Cravey said. "Without it, they wouldn't be able to go into burning buildings. So when equipment like that is so important, you want to make sure that you have quality gear."