North Chicago’s Fire Department is celebrating because it can finally replace its old oxygen tanks.
“Our old equipment was from 2002 and it was so obsolete that we couldn’t repair it. They no longer made the parts for it,” Fire Chief Dell Urban said.
This week the department announced it had obtained 30 new self-contained breathing apparatuses, a significant upgrade over the old equipment, with the help of a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant. They also got a new Cascade system, which refills the bottles.
“We have the 2002 edition now and it [new equipment] came in the nick of time,” she said.
“The new ones have built in safety provisions and they increase our air from 30 minutes to 45 minutes so we have more time for search and recovery,” Urban said.
They will also have emergency oxygen bottles for when a firefighter gets trapped inside a structure that gives rescuers 60 minutes of air time.
“I’m really excited. We have to do some mandatory training and then they should be in service in a couple of weeks,” she said, adding firefighter Brett Clark was instrumental in researching the equipment that was purchased.
The equipment cost $195,000. The federal share is 90 percent or $175,500, while the city has to cover 10 percent of the cost or $19,500. The North Chicago City Council approved its share last week.
The grant money came from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, administered by FEMA in cooperation with the department’s United States Fire Administration.
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