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Monday, May 8, 2017

Fort Thomas Fire Department Replaces Outdated Equipment

Fort Thomas Fire Department purchases new, life-saving equipment. Chris Rust and Kyle Kaufman.  

Perhaps it's their location, in the center of town. Perhaps it's the general ease and friendliness of the Fort Thomas Fire Department. Or perhaps it's the fire engine itself. For as Kurt Vonnegut said, "I can think of no more stirring symbol of man's humanity to man than a fire engine."

"We get to interact with our residents on a daily basis because we see them walking, they stop in with their kids and grandkids, and everyone's very friendly," says Fort Thomas Firefighter/Paramedic Chris Rust. "And we try to be friendly back but it's amazing on a day-to-day basis, with us being here 24 hours at a time, that they don't always know the in's and out's of what we do all day long." 

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Fort Thomas Matters Editor Mark Collier recently visited the Fort Thomas Fire Department to learn about newly purchased equipment—the previous equipment met a standard developed 15 years ago.

The new equipment replaces equipment that met a standard developed in 2002.

"Our prior equipment only met the standard for 2002, the safety standards set out by the government," says Fort Thomas Firefighter/Paramedic Kyle Kaufman. "So we were more than two standards behind because they had updated those in 2007, and again in 2013. So our new equipment is compliant to the 2013 standards."

The SCBA (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus) replacement, sold by Vogelpohl Fire Equipment (located in Erlanger, KY), offers a better fit and comfort level, better infection of shared components, a central power system with one rechargeable battery, and increased safety with real time, on-scene monitoring of the air packs' statuses and air remaining.

This new equipment meets the newest edition of standards recommended by the government for personal safety. A committee of four people looked at four manufacturers to determine the best product for the City of Fort Thomas.

The cost?

$145,275. But thanks to an AFG (Assistance to Firefighters Grant) award of $136,500, and the trade in of the old equipment, the total cost to the city was $7,775. This amount was less than what the department was going to have to spend to replace the cylinders on the old equipment, which had reached their end-of-life date.

Cost aside, this new equipment will better protect our city's firefighters, as well as our city's residents—and their homes. Consider the new tracking equipment.

A close-up of the mask, which offers better infection control. FTM file. 

"Someone on the outside of a fire incident can actually remotely track the status of all of our air packs and the amount of air remaining in them,"
Kaufman says. "And if anyone did have a problem and set off an alarm it would actually alert them of that. There's also better infection control on the air pack. ... It helps us save lives. It keeps us from getting ourselves in trouble or passing around any sicknesses so that we can help other people."

Rust says Fort Thomas firefighters work 24 hours at a time. Three crews rotate every third day, so everyone works 24 hours and then gets two days off.

Equipment is typically put on once a day, but sometimes it's as much as six to eight times a day. The crew can have their full protective ensemble on in less than two minutes. The new air packs are built into the seats of the truck, and are put in as firefighters are getting off the truck or as they get on the truck, before they put their seatbelts on.

Check out a demonstration of the new equipment, here:

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