Firefighters get vital air supply equipment
Houston County Courier
By Lynda Jones Editor-in-Chief Houston County firefighters received a very vital piece of firefighting equipment Wednesday morning, Dec. 4, Russell Jenkins, president of the Houston County Firefighters Association (HCFA), reported. "This piece of equipment is a breathing air supply trailer to refill SCBAs (airpacks) while on a remote location," Jenkins stated. "SCBAs are the tanks of fresh air that the firefighters carry on their backs to breathe while engaged in firefighting activities to keep them from breathing harmful air while working in fires or other IDLH (Immediate Danger to Life and Health) atmospheres such as chemical spills," Jenkins explained. "The firefighter's health is a major concern while working in dangerous atmospheres," Jenkins continued. "One of the leading causes of death to firefighters is lung cancer, along with heart attacks, and this trailer has been a dream and a project that the county firefighters have had for quite some time - to be able to provide the necessary means to protect our protectors." The primary hurdle to obtaining equipment like this is the cost, Jenkins said as he explained the process that led to Wednesday's delivery of the equipment. The first step was for the HCFA, which consists of fire chiefs and/or representatives from each fire department in Houston County, to study the project, design what they need and obtain quotes for the equipment and construction of the project, Jenkins explained. Next, the HCFA approached the Houston County Emergency Service Districts (ESD #1 and ESD #2) prior to budget time and negotiated a compromise for both ESD #1 and ESD #2 to cover the major cost of the equipment jointly, Jenkins said. ESD #1, ESD #2, Houston County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the HCFA all have an investment in the trailer, according to Jenkins. He explained that the Houston County OEM allowed the use of a cargo trailer that was on hand, the ESDs purchased the equipment for the breathing air supply and the HCFA is purchasing rehab equipment to be used in conjunction with the trailer air supply system. "This trailer will be stationed at the Office of Emergency Management/Fire Marshal's Office in the armory in Crockett," Jenkins stated. "This is being done so it is in a centralized location within Houston County. Being it is a county-wide project, the trailer can and will dispatched to any location at any time within the county." The equipment came from and the installation was performed by Hoyt Breathing Air Products of Quinlan, which serves fire and rescue professionals across Texas. "Hoyt installed eight DOT cylinders, a fill station, cylinder pump, scene lighting and an on-board generator onto the trailer," Jenkins said. "The trailer serves as a supply of breathing air as well as a source of scene lighting; it will be used as rehab on location and will carry hazardous materials response equipment to these remote locations." Jenkins concluded, "The joint efforts of all of these different entities going together on a project such as this, is a method to obtain the needs that otherwise could not be afforded individually. Each of these entities should be commended for working together and providing better safety to our firefighters."