Whitfield County Commissioners Agree to Replace Fire Equipment

Aging and outdated equipment endangers Whitfield County firefighters, Fire Chief Edward O’Brien said.

The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 Monday night to approve the  $163,170 purchase of turnout gear and protective equipment for the fire department from NAFECO of Decatur, Ala., and the $336,822.50 purchase of self-contained breathing apparatuses from Municipal Emergency Services of Charlotte, N.C.

Board Chairman Mike Babb typically votes only to break ties.

O’Brien said an inventory found that much of the department’s turnout gear — the protective outer clothing firefighters wear — is more than 10 years old.

“The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) requires a 10-year replacement,” he said. “It (the turnout gear) still looks OK. But the thermal protection degrades over time.”

The department’s breathing equipment is a model that was approved in 2003, O’Brien said. The new equipment can hold more air and also has an emergency breathing safety system.

“If a firefighter gets into trouble in a building, runs out of air, another firefighter can come up with a quick connect, a snap on, and they can share air,” he said.

O’Brien said the department expects to have the new equipment by September. The county bought 98 sets of turnout gear and 48 pieces of breathing equipment.

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