With current equipment reaching or in some cases already exceeding recommend life-expectancy dates, the Scotland County Rural Fire Corporation and the City of Memphis have agreed in principal to fund replacements.

At a February 8th meeting of the Memphis City Council, rural fire corporation board members Freddie Henderson and Mike Johnson were present to discuss the future of the volunteer firemen’s personal protective gear.

Henderson explained that many of the joint departments’ sets of bunker gear, the protective coats and pants worn by the firemen, were now more than 10 years old. Manufactures recommend replacing the gear after a decade of service.

While the board members stressed that the firemen did not feel like their safety was at risk if the gear remained in service, it was the opinion of the rural board that it should be replaced and maintained within the recommended lifespan.

Council members were in agreement the gear should be replaced and suggested a policy that would allow establish graduated replacement of the gear in the future, with for example 20% replacement every other year, which would establish a 10-year rotation for all gear, while spreading out the cost.

Henderson estimated each set of gear costs between $2,000 and $3,000, with the department seeking to maintain a 24-member team.

The firemen have pursued grant funding to help with the cost of gear replacement, but have been unsuccessful in the most recent grant cycles.

The council voted 4-0 to approve the purchase of a minimum of 12 new sets of personal protective gear, splitting the cost with the rural corporation.