January 26, 2006

Firemen To Get New, Improved Turn-Out Gear

Firemen are the publicís first line of defense against the destructive force of flames. A firefighterís suit is his or her initial guard against the dangers they face at every fire.

Scotland County firemen will now have a better front-line defense as the volunteers will soon be outfitted with a completely new line of turn-out gear. The volunteer department finalized the process at a special meeting January 16th at the fire station when members voted to purchase new coats and pants from the Globe Firefighter Suits line.

The project marks a significant protection improvement for the firemen. The department will upgrade to the Globe Advance system, which is made up of 40-percent Nomex and 60-percent Kevlar. The departmentís current bunker gear is made of more than 90-percent Nomax. That change means firemen will now have protection versus temperatures of nearly 1,200 degrees. That is an upgrade from the old turn out suits that were rated up to just 700 degrees.

Other substantial improvements that will be witnessed with the new gear include added flexibility and lower weight.

The department initiated the transition as much of the firemenís current gear is seven to up to 15 years old and has far exceeded the recommended life expectancy. Firemen also noted the desire to upgrade to the new material now available on the fire-protection market.

Initially the department had sought a grant through the Homeland Security Department to fund the purchase of new turn-out gear. The grant application was denied.

The fire department kick-started the project with a pledge of $10,000 from the firemenís fund. The Scotland County Rural Fire Protection Board also pledged $10,000 to the cost of purchasing the new gear. On January 19th at a special meeting, the Memphis City Council agreed to help fund the project through the cityís tax funding of the department.

The cost of the new suit is $1,130. The fire department consists of 24 volunteers, meaning the total cost of upgrading the turn-out gear for the two dozen firemen will be approximately $27,120.

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