PFD receives safety grant

POULSBO — Firefighters with the Poulsbo Fire Department will soon be breathing easier after using funding recently received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

PFD was awarded a $169,000 grant that it will put toward the purchase of additional safety equipment for firefighters, including new breathing apparatus for use in burning buildings and larger fires.

U.S. Congressman Jay Inslee (D-Bainbridge Island) paid a visit to the Poulsbo Fire Department Oct. 13 to officially notify the local fire officials of their award.

“First responders in Poulsbo now can take advantage of technological advancements that will help them do their jobs more safely and effectively,” Inslee said in a prepared statement.

The grant will be used to purchase 30 new Self Contained Breathing Apparatus packs and 30 refill bottles. The new equipment will replace the existing systems that are more than a decade old and do not meet the current standards set by the National Fire Protection Association. Existing equipment is also not compatible with systems used by other fire districts within the county.

Features with the new system include an integrated automatic personal safety alarm, which goes off when a firefighter stops moving for a certain amount of time, letting others know that he or she may be in danger. The new system also has a manual override if needed. On the old system, the alarm system had to be manually activated.

Another feature is the length of time the air in the bottle will last. The old units lasted for only 30 minutes, but the newer units provide 45 minutes of air, increasing the time a firefighter can combat a heavy blaze.

The communication and information system within the face mask is also improved, allowing firefighters to better understand each other when talking through the masks on the scene of a fire. There is also a display within the mask that informs firefighters how much air they have left in their packs.

“Communication is so important,” said PFD Lt. John Warnke.

The units are put on several times a day, when they go out on calls and/or are in training and firefighters spend at least 50 hours a year with the packs on their backs, Warnke added.

Another advantage of receiving the grant is increasing efficiency with other fire districts when they converge on the same scene of a fire. By purchasing these new systems, the district will be up to par with the SCBAs in other districts, as all the agencies now use the same types of equipment.

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