2014-05-08 / Front Page

New Firefighting Equipment Enhances Safety

By Jack Kelly


Kurt Shipman, representative for Shipman Fire Equipment, explains the workings of an emergency RIT pack to Newport Firefighter Peter Marriotti. (Photos by Jack Kelly) Kurt Shipman, representative for Shipman Fire Equipment, explains the workings of an emergency RIT pack to Newport Firefighter Peter Marriotti. (Photos by Jack Kelly) The Newport Fire Department recently took delivery of critically necessary lifesaving equipment.

According to Fire Chief Peter Connerton, “We have purchased 50 Scott’s self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and accompanying safety devices that will better protect our firefighters and improve our ability to operate in dangerous and toxic environments. We have also received five handheld thermal imaging cameras (TIC) to replace our current ones, which are over 10 years old and in disrepair. They use infrared radiation to allow us to find trapped or downed fire victims in poor visibility, and have been used to locate hot spots or smoldering fires in walls and ceilings in Newport’s older buildings to halt flames before they spread.”


Firefighter David Sarro demonstrates the newly-delivered Scotts SCBA. Firefighter David Sarro demonstrates the newly-delivered Scotts SCBA. The new SCBA units offer considerable safety improvements over the previous models. As Connerton explained, “The new breathing apparatus will better protect our firefighters and the public. They have an LED light in the mask that allows users to see how much oxygen is left without reaching for an external gauge. Moreover, the new tanks will sound an alarm when the air supply is down to 33 percent, allowing for added safety time compared to the current notification level of 25 percent.”

Connerton also said that each SCBA unit’s emergency locator mechanism will be programmed into five hand-held emergency locator wands, giving the location of firefighters in a building. “This will allow our rapid intervention teams to quickly identify and locate an injured firefighter in smoky conditions, even one who may be noncommunicative due to injury.”

The intervention teams will also carry special SCBA units consisting of a stripped-down tank with an umbilical-like hose that can be directly plugged into a downed firefighter’s air supply. This is an extremely important tool, in that it allows a rescuer to transfer air without changing the victim’s mask and exposing the injured individual to toxic smoke and fumes.

In 2012, Connerton applied for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security. Those monies are paying for the bulk of the equipment purchase. “The total cost for these items is $381,360 and the City of Newport will pay only 10% of that,” he said. Connerton was also involved in negotiations with the supplier, Shipman Fire Equipment of Waterford, Ct., and was able to strike a deal for discounts. The thermal cameras, 5 wands, and 3 RIT packs were thrown into the package at no additional charge.

Connerton’s efforts appear to have saved the city valuable tax dollars. Of course, the purchases are also an investment in the safety of the general public and members of the Newport Fire Department.

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