Cochrane Fire receiving new breathing apparatuses

Cochrane firefighters will be fit for new self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA) around the start of the new year.

Fire chief Shawn Polley said some of the parts of their current apparatuses have started to break down because the equipment is past its recommended lifespan of 10 years.

"We maintain them at a very high standard, so if you do have a pack failure or any type of system failure, then they come out of service and then they go into our audit service program," he said. "We were starting to see more severe failures, computers, those kinds of things. Based on where they have been and how well we've maintained them, it was time for an upgrade to a full replacement."

The Town of Cochrane approved a motion to use $100,000 in funding from Cochrane Fire's capital reserve fund to acquire new apparatuses in a regular meeting Nov. 27.

The fire department will be moving on from their 12-year old Scott Air-Pak SCBA to brand new MSA G1 SCBA, receiving one apparatus per seat in the department's fleet, or 26 units. 

Polley added that for safety and consistency reasons all of the equipment will be swapped out regardless of what may still be functional. 

"It's not the best practice to have a mixed system, it's best for most departments to phase out their existing package and into a whole equipment changeover," he said. "It can be challenging for the staff if they have one brand from one manufacturer in one truck and then another brand manufacturer in the other. For us, we look at it as a safety issue. It just makes it complicated and they don't need complications when they're going to do some of the work that they're doing out in the community."

The MSA G1 SCBA comes with a built-in system to replace the beacons used on the Scott Air-Paks to help firefighters track other firefighters when they're in need of assistance. 

"It's part of our efforts to future proof," said Polley. "We'll be one of the first departments in Canada to adopt the 5,500 bottle and a 45-minute air tank. That brings a little bit of lightness in weight to the department and brings a little bit of lightness in a smaller platform and smaller overall package for the employees. So they're really looking forward to that, it's maybe a pound or two difference but from the overall size and what you get from the tank, it's an improvement."

When the new equipment arrives, the old breathing apparatuses will be donated or recycled to other relief efforts where needed but one Scott Air-Pak tank will remain to join other vintage equipment in the department's museum. 


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